By Taha Qureshi
CHICAGO - When the Dallas Mavericks visited the Chicago Bulls last Monday at the United Center, Dirk Nowitzki was on the inactive list and dressed in plainclothes as he watched his team score a 103-98 victory.
Under NBA rules, he wasn't required to talk to reporters during the post-game media availability session. With the kind permission of Sarah Melton, the Mavs' vice-president for communications, we threw a prayer and tried.
The expectation was that the Big German, hobbling with a foot injury that limited his movement, would politely decline.
Much to our surprise. the former NBA champ and MVP instead gave us a thorough interview in which he answered our questions eloquently, made eye contact, and sent us our merry way after a pleasant three minutes and 50 seconds which also featured a DeAndre Jordan cameo.
Here's the future Hall-of-Famer. In his own words.
SPIN.ph: This could be your last game here in the United Center. Any fond memories in this building?
Nowitzki: Well, it's a great atmosphere, great crowd always whether they're good or bad. It's always fun competing here. We'll see, hopefully, I'll be back.
SPIN.ph: I read somewhere that you once had fun skiing in Dubai. It's close to the Philippines, have you ever thought of meandering over there?
Nowitzki: Yeah, I never made it all the way. I've been to Malaysia, did some swimming there, snorkeling. Malaysia is close to the Philippines but I never made it all the way. Maybe in the future, who knows?
SPIN.ph: What's it been like to represent and play 20 years of your career with the Dallas Mavericks?
Nowitzki: It's been great. We struggled early in my career, but we had some great teams. Mark Cuban took care of everybody, bought a new plane, got a new arena and put Dallas back on the map. It's been fun ever since then and got to play with (Steve) Nash, (Jason) Kidd, and (Michael) Finley. I remember we won 50 games after 10 years plus. It's been a lot of fun, we had some good teams and it's been a pleasure.
SPIN.ph: How's the transition been for you being a veteran leader and a voice for this team and seeing your younger players grow?
Nowitzki: Yeah, you know I'm just trying to help them out and use my experience to help some of these young guys get better and just show them some work ethic. We're heading in the right direction, a couple years were tough but we got some exciting young talent that we can build around for the future.
SPIN.ph: What are your thoughts on rookie phenom Luka Doncic and what do you think his ceiling is?
Nowitzki: He's been great. Great decision-maker for his age already. He's been a pro since 13 already. He's a good shooter who can make plays off the dribble. He can pass with the best of them so he's going to be fun to have around and he's not even 20 yet. I think the sky is the limit for him.
SPIN.ph: Being older now, what's the preparation you take on a daily basis for you to still compete in the NBA?
Nowitzki: It's a lot of rehab, manual work, a lot of deep tissue massaging, prep work, and weight lifting. Putting a lot of work to stay ready and to get healthy to get out there and maybe play a few minutes hopefully soon.
SPIN.ph: Do you have any plans set up for life after basketball? Could you see yourself being an assistant coach or being in player development. Broadcasting, perhaps?
Nowitzki: I'll be a family man first for sure. I have three little kids. I'm looking forward to seeing them grow and leading them in the right direction. Everything else we will see after that but as of right now, I'm looking forward to more time with the kids.