MANILA, Philippines – How could a former NBA star who had never set foot in a country be ever so loved by its people?
Dirk Nowitzki still grapples to answer that question after being showered with love and admiration by Filipino hoop fans as he visited the Philippines for the first time as part of the FIBA delegation for the World Cup draw.
“I knew the Philippines loved their basketball but I didn’t know it was this crazy,” said the Dallas Mavericks legend, who is now a member of the FIBA Central Board.
“Everybody loves hoops, loves the Mavericks, loves the NBA. It means a lot.”
China icon Yao Ming and Argentina great Luis Scola also attended the draw on Saturday, April 29, at the Araneta Coliseum, but the German star drew the loudest cheers.
Nowitzki returned the favor as he gamely took photos with fans and accommodated their requests for autographs.
Overall, it was an “amazing” trip for the former NBA MVP, who also found time to go around Tagaytay and meet President Bongbong Marcos throughout his short stay.
“It’s been humbling to see. It’s my first time ever here, but people have followed my career from that far away without ever getting to see a game,” said Nowitzki.
“This is really special.”
Aside from being a FIBA Central Board member, Nowitzki – who headlines the 2023 class that will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this August – also serves as the chairman of the FIBA Players’ Commission. – Rappler.com
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