FIBA Europe announced on Tuesday that Dirk Nowitzki of Germany has been voted the 2011 European Player of the Year. Nowitzki was the winner of the expert panel vote* ahead of Spain captain and EuroBasket 2011 MVP Juan Carlos Navarro and came in fourth in the public voting. It is the second time Nowitzki lands the coveted FIBA Europe award, as he was the winner of the first edition, in 2005. He was also named 2011 Germany’s Athlete of the Year last December.
The highlight of the year for the German star came on 12 June, just a week ahead of his 33rd birthday. He led the Dallas Mavericks to their fourth win in the NBA play-off final series against the Miami Heat, conquering the title and earning Finals MVP honours. Nowitzki, who has been playing for Dallas since the beginning of his NBA career in 1998, raised his game as pressure mounted in the play-offs to secure a historic first NBA championship for the Texas franchise.
He averaged 27.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the play-offs, up from 23.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in the regular season. The 2.13m forward responded to his national team’s call later in the summer and suited up for Germany at the EuroBasket in Lithuania. He averaged 19.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists but could not avert a rather disappointing 9th place finish for Germany.
The dedication of one the biggest basketball players of all time though, especially after a long and exhausting NBA season, was never in question. Nowitzki has represented Germany in six EuroBaskets, two World Championships and the Beijing Olympic Games, leading them to the silver medal at EuroBasket 2005 and the bronze at the 2002 World Championship. He is the EuroBasket’s second all-time leading scorer, behind Nikos Galis of Greece.
“Dirk is not only a fantastic athlete and a world-class basketball player,” said FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson. “He is above all a great person, honest, hard-working, loyal and humble. In my eyes, he is someone that young people, basketball players or otherwise, should look up to,” Mr Rafnsson concluded. “2011 was a landmark year for Dirk,” commented FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin.
“He finally achieved one of his dreams with millions of fans in Europe and around the world cheering him on. A remarkable person and a true ambassador of basketball, I could not be happier for him,” Mr Zanolin added.
FIBA EUROPE 2011 MEN’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR VOTING RESULTS
*Six points awarded to the first-choice player in every ballot, three points to the second choice and two points to the third.