With a lockout possibly looming in the NBA for later in 2011, a trio of powerful German basketball clubs are considering options of bringing in Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki for the 2011-12 season.
Bayern Munich, Alba Berlin and Brose Baskets Bamberg have all spent the past few weeks planting nuggets in German media about their interest in signing Nowitzki, who himself said the German BBL league would be an option if the NBA had a lockout.
“Of course it would be a dream, the 1-A solution. But that can only work out if the NBA actually strikes next season. But it will remain a dream until then,” Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness told the German mass daily Bild on January 1, 2011.
Alba team manager Mithat Demirel said the club is clearly watching the NBA lockout situation, and the Berlin side would definitely go after Nowitzki.
“The goal is to at one time bring Dirk into our team. We would even bring him in for a couple of months,” Demirel told the Berlin daily BZ on December 1, 2010. “Should it get to the point that he cannot play, then we would do everything we can to get him.”
Alba have long talked about having the German star in the German capital, even after his NBA career is over with as Alba general manager Marco Baldi was quoted on spox.com on December 15, 2010: “It is no secret that our biggest wish for a long time was to see Dirk in Berlin. Of course you think about what could be. Financially we would be able to agree, money is not that decisive for Dirk. We will be the first to call him when a lockout is clear.”
In the same article, Bamberg general manager Wolfgang Heyder said the reigning double league and cup champions would also go after Nowitzki. “It would be a dream. Dirk and Bamberg – that is an ideal constellation. Dirk comes from the Franconia area and would play in his home region for one of the signature German clubs in the Euroleague. Financially we could figure it out. Dirk is in the case of a lockout without a doubt an issue for us,” said Heyder, who between Christmas and New Year’s turned down an offer from Bayern Munich and signed a three-year extension with Bamberg.
All three clubs – given that Bayern Munich as expected gain promotion – could likely come up with the funds for Nowitzki. The first of the two biggest questions is if Nowitzki is allowed to play anywhere he likes – since he has four years remaining on his contract with Dallas. The other is if the BBL club would have to pay an insurance premium covering injury – something the German Basketball Federation has had to do when Nowitzki plays for Germany summers.
All three clubs also have positives and negatives for Dirk – should it reach that far.
Munich will definitely not be playing internationally in 2011-12 since they first have to reach the first division. But Bayern are coached by the German national team coach Dirk Bauermann, who knows Nowitzki obviously very well. And the team also includes youth friend Demond Greene and fellow German international Steffen Hamann.
In Berlin, Nowitzki would find a club desperately yearning for a German league title – unless they win the crown this season – and management willing to spend big money to bring in help for Nowitzki. Alba also would most likely get a wild card to at least participate in the Euroleague qualification.
Bamberg have rolled through the German BBL this season and are the current favorites to repeat their title and return to the Euroleague – obviously a big attraction for Nowitzki.
Still, the German club bosses will cautiously address the situation if it gets there.
“In the event of a lockout, we have to ask ourselves if it’s a good idea to bring our rotation out of whack for an NBA star. Can one player promise such an improvement in quality that it’s worth the risk? Without wanting to step on Göttingen’s toes, but the fact that they played even with Besiktas and their new star Allen Iverson doesn’t exactly speak for bringing in players from the NBA,” said Heyder in the spox article.
And Baldi added: “When Iverson played in Göttingen, the masses did not come out. When the Russian club Samara and five former NBA players played against us (in Berlin) the spectators were also not really interested. It would be an exception if Steve Nash or of course Dirk Nowitzki all of a sudden were to play in Berlin.”
Nowitzki, for his part, appears open to the idea of playing in Germany.
In the spox article he said: “The BBL would certainly be a possibility.”
On November 30, 2010, Nowitzki told Bild: “Before I don’t do anything for a year I would gladly go to Munich.”