Do you wish you could come back and relive the 2018-19 season that Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic played at the Mavericks Stadium together?
This weekend may present the earliest opportunity.
A Mavericks legend of two decades will host the fifth edition of the Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Classic on Sunday (11am-3pm) at the SMU Tennis Complex.
In the event’s return after a two-year hiatus due to COVID, Nowitzki will be hosting a slew of celebrities-turned-tennis players to help raise funds and interest for the event. Dirk Nowitzki Foundation For charities that support children’s health, education, and welfare in the Dallas area.
On the list of players this year: Doncic, actor Ben Stiller, former Mavericks Steve Nash and JJ Barry, current tennis pro John Isner, former American stars Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, and Nowitzki himself.
tickets Available For $41, it’s free for children 3 years old and under.
In a recent conversation with Dallas Morning NewsNowitzki discusses his expectations for his biggest corporate event of the year, his scouting report on Doncic’s tennis and his thoughts on the upcoming season for the Frix.
Below Nowitzki’s answers have been slightly modified for length and clarity.
First, How are you? Headed back to Dallas after the great T-shirt retirement party and busy EuroBasket promotion schedule?
I did not expect this result [at EuroBasket]. I mean, a full gym every night, 18,000 people. it was amazing. I had a blast. I literally just came back. I was there for two weeks, two and a half weeks [to finish] In Berlin, I just got back on Monday night. Yes, great turnout. naturally, The party was very niceAnd my family was there, so I was very emotional.
That must have been amazing to have so much championship in your country and then the national team to medal for the first time since you led them to silver in 2005.
Yes, I watched that match on Sunday. When we won the bronze, I was there, so yeah, I feel so proud and happy that we put together an amazing event for over two and a half weeks. Yes, it was a fun time. But I was ready too [to come back]. I have been in Europe for months. I left in June, so I was looking forward to coming home and playing the tennis event this weekend, then the Mavs season is around the corner, so I’m looking forward to getting back here in the routine.
Speaking of events, I know many are looking forward to this tennis tournament. Take me through what are you most excited about to start this event again?
We had to take a few years off because of the pandemic. We are finally back. This is our fifth year in doing so. It started with me being a tennis fanatic, and we wanted to organize our own event, so tennis was something I was passionate about, so we started this event a few years ago, and it was fun to see how we’ve grown. Even last year we did, 2019 before the pandemic, to see support – all sold out and Luca played. It was such an amazing event for us that we definitely wanted to bring it back.
I’m just looking forward to seeing everyone and getting celebrity support again with Luca and Ben Stiller back. We’ve got some great tennis players coming back with Isner, Roddick and Nash. So I think we’re going to have a great tournament again and just look, of course, to the main thing – we want to raise money for the foundation.
You know, the foundation that we’ve had for 20 years now, in 2021, we celebrated our 20th anniversary, and we’re giving grants to some amazing organizations here at children’s and women’s charities in North Texas. They’re doing a great job and have great projects, we’re able to fund and support them, and that means a lot. So I think we’ve been able to impact a lot of lives, and of course we’re very grateful.
What should fans and people who come to the event know about the purpose and reason for bringing all this together to serve the community?
We’ve had this baseball event for years, and since the pandemic we haven’t been able to make it, but this event, the tennis event, is the only fundraiser we have now for the foundation for this year, and a lot of celebrities are coming in. But we have some great support from our supporters and sponsors, so we are able to do this event and raise a lot of money for these local charities here that are changing the lives of these children and women. Of course, this is a great, wonderful event, but we are raising money this weekend for our foundation, and we want to support and influence as many organizations as possible.
I know a lot of Mavericks fans are excited to start this season because Luca has had some big games at EuroBasket and looks like he’s in better shape. What’s your take on how this carried into his tennis game? What is your exploratory report on this weekend?
I’m just looking forward to seeing him. I didn’t get to see him much in Germany. I didn’t really want to bother him during a big tournament, and then they lost and left the next day, so I couldn’t even see him in Germany, but of course we are very grateful to him to come early and support our event.
His tennis, I might say, is. There is definitely room for improvement. I always tell him to stick with basketball. No, supporting me and the foundation and the event means a lot, so we’re excited to be bringing it back. You know, he’s the guy here, so obviously he’s going to get a lot of attention, and that means a lot that he’s giving his time and supporting the action.
I think the feeling there is mutual. Besides Luca, who’s your money for the hottest player to watch?
We have some great tennis players. We have some guys who are like that. If you’re there as a tennis fan, you might want to keep watching John Isner. By the way, I think he broke his wrist in his last game at the US Open, and he supports the event with a broken wrist. You’ll want to see Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick, some of the best shows in the sport. If you want to have fun, you may want to follow Ben Stiller a little more for me. I think there will be more talk of trash.
I think the fun part about SMU is that you kind of sit there. You are kinda close. You can supervise all the pitches, and that’s what’s fun. You can walk a bit and see one stadium. You can walk a little further and you can see another playground, so I think that’s the fun of the event – it’s a family event where it’s interactive. You get to know people and meet people and it will be fun.
Another question with the Mavs in focus – this time last year there were a lot of questions about how the season went with Jason Kidd as the new coach, and I know you have a role in that. What about Jason’s leadership that was so effective last year, and what do you envision for the upcoming season?
Unfortunately I haven’t been around as much as I should since I travel a lot with kids, but when I’m here, what I see is that it can connect. He can communicate with his players. They are working hard for it. I think he has a good staff around him, and he just works.
I think respect has to be there both ways, and he treats his players with respect, and they respect him for that. I think it’s been a great year, but now “Can you move on? Can you build from here? There’s always pressure when you get into the top four in the NBA, so we’ll see.”
As we all know, it takes time. It is a process. It takes time for something to grow. You can’t suddenly think that the next step will be to win a championship. Did I win any 2011? You have to build. You have to be good for a long time to be able to make it happen.
You have to have the right pieces in the right place at the right time, but the exciting thing is we’ve got JKidd, we’ve got Luka, and hopefully you’ve been here for a long time that you can build around and hopefully one of those years hack. But we were pretty close last year, and it’s been a fun year, so hopefully we can get some more of that.