Dirk Nowitzki talks German team
Dirk Nowitzki made his most definitive statement to date, saying that it looks as though he will play for the German national team in next month's Olympic qualifying tournament in Lithuania.
"It looks that way, assuming that I finally get healthy," Nowitzki said in an interview published Tuesday by the German website Spiegel Online International (Spiegel.de/international). "I have been carrying a flu bug around with me for four weeks. It makes no sense to play in the European championships if I am only halfway healthy; neither for me nor for my teammates."
Nowitzki came down with a sinus infection prior to Game 4 of the Finals. He played the game with a 101-degree fever, winning it with a drive in the final minute.
Since February, Nowitzki has voiced his desire to lead a young German team to the 2012 Olympics in London. He took a mostly veteran club to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and considers the experience one of the athletic highlights of his career, along with winning his first NBA championship in 13 seasons.
"And that's why I definitely want to play," Dirk said in the interview regarding leading a young team. "I don't want to ruin the others' chances of participating in the Olympics. To qualify, we have to finish at least sixth at the European championships."
The 2011 Eurobasket tournament begins Aug. 31 in Lithuania. Nowitzki, who is back in his hometown of Wurzburg, has about another month to clear his system of illness before practices begin.
Nowitzki had said that he would hold off on making a decision until after the Mavs' season. Having played through mid-June, Nowitzki might have been inclined not to compete for a third consecutive season to prepare for the upcoming NBA season.
However, the threat of a prolonged NBA lockout that could delay the start of the 2011-12 season could help make Nowitzki's decision easier.
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.