Friday, June 20, 2008

Euro Trip: Rick visits Dirk in Germany

Rick Carlisle returned from his European vacation with a greater appreciation for the continent’s most renowned NBA export. That’s what eight days in Germany with Dirk Nowitzki, his family and friends will do.

“We’re talking about the greatest European player in history,” Carlisle said. “There’s nobody else that’s been an MVP in the NBA, and for him to do that coming from where he did and facing the challenges he’s faced is phenomenal. And yet he’s still a guy who’s in his early prime and has a lot more years left.”

Carlisle visited Nowitzki’s childhood home in Würzburg and many of the courts he grew up playing on. One, to Carlisle’s surprise, had a linoleum floor. A visit or two to the neighborhood beer garden was also part of the tour. They caught Germany’s Euro 2008 match with Croatia during one trip.

Getting to know Nowitzki’s personal coach/mentor proved equally enlightening for the Mavericks coach. Holger Geschwindner, a member of West Germany’s 1972 Olympic basketball team, has a unique outlook on the sport, training methods and how to best use Nowitzki.

“I have a greater appreciation for his humble beginnings and some of the challenges that he faced in terms of facilities not being great,” Carlisle said. “There was an exorbitant amount of traveling that had to be done by both Holger and Dirk so that they could meet up and train in the early years.”

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