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What Germans think of Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki

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David J. Phillip/AP

(Read caption) Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki holds up the MVP trophy after Game 6 of the NBA Finals basketball game against the Miami Heat Sunday, June 12, in Miami. The Mavericks won 105-95 to win the series.

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Basketball may not be as popular in Germany as it is in the US, but the crowning of the new NBA champion, led by the all-star German Dirk Nowitzki, was greeted with delight by many back home.

Mr. Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks power forward who hasn’t played for a German club in 13 years, is on every front page and leading most news bulletins today in Germany. Sure, it's a public holiday here (Pentecost) and not much else is happening. But Nowtizki is a bona fide national sports hero in a country that currently ranks 12th on the FIBA list of best national teams.

Germans are passionate about sport, but only soccer can be described as a national sport in the way basketball, baseball, and football are in the US.

The soccer World Cup and the European Championships bring the country to a standstill, the nation glued to TV sets and giant screens in public squares.

The FIBA basketball world championships will practically go unnoticed.

I polled neighbors and family members. Not a single person could name the current German basketball champions (Brose Baskets Bamberg).

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