In case a 7,000-word-plus oral history of Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t enough for you, after the jump, a few more quotes from the Big German that I couldn’t work into the piece.
On his favorite former teammate:
I think still to this day, I love Steve and Mike, but one of my favorite teammates is Nick Van Exel. Man, he was great. You hear a lot of stories, about how he pushed a ref and head-butted a ref, how he’s a little selfish and stuff. He came here – first of all, he had to give up the last year of his contract, which was like $13 mil or whatever. Who does that, first of all? He was around here, in a great mood always. He had leadership on the court. He would make tough shots for us.
On why he stopped playing saxophone:
What happened was, I started playing the sax, and I even had lessons. Then I got my teeth knocked out. I had those front two, those rabbit teeth that were, like, this long. [Points to his lower lip.] The first, first time I got them knocked out was in Germany. Then over here, it was in the playoffs against San Antonio. I couldn’t really put the plate here anymore and play. I had to be careful. I had, like, a brace from the back on it–I was like, “Screw it. That’s not going to work.” So I started playing guitar. My brother-in-law is actually a good guitar player. He’s got a Rolling Stones cover band in Germany. He showed me some tracks, and that’s how I got into it.
On his first participation in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program this summer:
It was great. I’ve never really been to Africa. I’ve been to Tunisia, North Africa, on the beach – but that’s not really the real Africa. When I found out I definitely wasn’t going to play at the Euros – because the NBA has asked me for years, and I always was busy in the summer, playing. So I asked them if they still had a spot and they said yes. We were in Johannesburg for a little over five days. Usually what we did, we went to the camp in the morning, taught the kids some stuff, hung out with the kids. In the afternoon, we did community service stuff. Saw some great stuff. Built a house, actually, in one of the poorer areas. Played with the kids one day. Saw some eye-opening stuff, so I’ll definitely want to go back and help out when I get a chance. Definitely an experience. Did a safari afterwards, for a week – that was great. I think when you live in a modern world, you get away from nature a little bit. All you do is sit at house and watch TV or whatever. There, you kind of sleep in a tent outside, and at 3 in the morning, you get woken up, like, “What is going on?” An elephant just walks by, grazes the tree your tent’s in, wakes you up. It was amazing. Saw every animal there is in the book. Had a blast. Then I went home real quick to Germany for a couple of days.