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Uneasy traveler


Dirk Nowitzki jokes with friend Steve Nash after a game in 1999. (Photo: Huy Nguyen)


Marc Stein wrote this on November 17, 1998, when Dirk Nowitkzi was transitioning from the quaint town of Wurzburg, Germany to the big city lights of Dallas, Texas.


WURZBURG, Germany - The arena he reluctantly exits has a white floor, boasts a background of bricks behind each basket and serves its hot dogs with a dinner roll instead of a bun. The team he hesitates to leave requires its players to pack their own water bottles, carry their own bags from the bus all the way to the bench and file onto the court in numerical order during pre-game introductions.

Then there's the family Dirk Nowitzki already misses: Joerg, his father, the former handball star; Helga, his mother, who can cook Italian, Chinese or local Franconian fare; Silke, his sister, another basketball standout; and Holger, his coach, named an honorary dad by the boy's parents.

Even for a shot at NBA success, a guaranteed spot in the Mavericks' starting lineup and millions of dollars over the next few seasons, it's a lot for a 20-year-old to give up.

"Old, nice, beautiful Wurzburg," Nowitzki said with a wistful smile.

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