Sun, May 13, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Nowitzki becomes first European MVP honoree in the NBA

AP , DALLAS

Dirk Nowitzki has been chosen as the NBA's MVP for leading the Dallas Mavericks to one of the best regular seasons in league history, a team official said on Friday.

The formal announcement will come on Tuesday said the team official, who requested anonymity because the announcement is pending.

Nowitzki and the Mavericks went from a league-best 67 wins to a stunning first-round elimination by eighth-seeded Golden State, with the big German quite un-MVP-like for most of the series.

Voting was completed before the playoffs.

Nowitzki becomes the first MVP in 25 years not to win a single playoff series; it last happened to Houston's Moses Malone in 1981-1982. That failure is likely to be remembered more than the fact he's the first European honoree, and the first not to have attended a US high school or college.

best player

Nowitzki earned the honor by being the best player on the best team, leading the Mavericks in scoring (24.6 points per game) and rebounding (8.9 per game).

He was an All-Star for the sixth straight year and started the game for the first time. That was a first for a Dallas player -- as is this honor.

On Thursday, he was chosen to the all-NBA first-team for a third straight year.

While Nowitzki's ninth season wasn't his highest-scoring, it was his most accurate. He set career-highs in shooting percentage on field goals (50.2), 3-pointers (41.6) and free throws (90.4); no other player in the league topped 50, 40 and 90 percent.

Growing up in Wurzburg, Germany, his father a successful handball player and his mother a former member of the national basketball team, Nowitzki was discovered at age 16 by Holger Geschwindner, captain of West Germany's 1972 Olympic team.

training regimen

When Nowitzki said he wanted to get serious about learning the game, Geschwindner devised an unusual training regimen aimed at producing an unusual basketball specimen: A 7-footer who shoots 3-pointers.

The Mavericks were wowed by Nowitzki's skills when he worked out at their gym before going to a youth tournament in San Antonio at the 1998 Final Four. They acquired him in a draft-day deal with Milwaukee, which had taken him ninth overall on orders from Dallas.

Playing for Nelson, a wizard of the mismatch, Nowitzki became a nearly 22-point per game scorer by his third season. He's remained at or above that level ever since.

He's already the leading rebounding in club history and is on pace to become the leading scorer next season. This season, he became a more reliable passer, averaging a career-best 3.4 assists per game.

He's also become a solid defender, shaking the mocking name of ``irk,'' as in there being no ``D'' in him.

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