Back in 2011, playing for the German national team for the first time since the 2008 Olympics, Dirk Nowitzki came up short of his goal: the Germans did not qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
Since then, Nowitzki has been absent from the national program, choosing instead to focus on rest and preparation as he rolls through his twilight years at a higher level than anyone would have expected. Next summer, at age 37, he'll look to avenge the 2011 failure by suiting up for Germany at EuroBasket 2015, with 2016 Olympics berths on the line.
"Yes," Nowitzki told German newspaper SportBild this week when asked if he had permission for the European Championships next year.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been outspoken against player participation in international competition, but it's certainly possible that after 16 seasons, and with a new team-friendly contract signed, Nowitzki has called in a favor. The year 2016 will mark his final chance to suit up for Olympic competition, something he's done only once, in 2008, the country's only berth since 1992.
Germany is currently ranked 18th by FIBA. A top-two finish at EuroBasket would guarantee an Olympics berth in 2016, while a strong showing is requisite for a berth in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which takes place shortly before the Olympics.
Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Ints Kalnins