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Bauerfeind brand ambassador Dirk Nowitzki “Listening to the signals your body sends you”

Issue 03/2018

Basketball star Dirk Nowitzki is 2.13 meters tall. While that may be an advantage on the court, it can have some drawbacks when it comes to clothing or hotel beds. Bauerfeind’s brand ambassador spoke with life about size, custom-made medical aids, physical stress in professional sports, and his ties to his team, the Dallas Mavericks.

What advantages does your size offer you off the basketball court?

Dirk Nowitzki: People usually can’t miss me and I always have an excellent overview of what’s going on around me. You definitely attain a special type of self-confidence when you develop a good awareness of your body and accept your size.    

Do you still sometimes hit your head on things?

Dirk Nowitzki: No, not anymore really. You develop a certain sense of space over the years. Putting my head down has become a routine for me – I simply don’t think about it anymore.

Do you (still) have XXL problems, so to speak?

Dirk Nowitzki: Sometimes with non-sports clothing or shoes. Hotel beds and long trips can still be a problem sometimes, however.

We focus on customized solutions and tailor-made products. Which types of clothes do you have custom made?

Dirk Nowitzki: Most of the time I wear sports apparel from my supplier, Nike, which fortunately is now once again the official supplier for the NBA. Everything fits from off the shelf and things are generally bigger here in the U.S. anyway. The suit I wore at my wedding, as well as my other suits, were custom-made, but I don’t have my own tailor at the moment.

When do you use customized medical aids – during practice, in games, or when you’re recuperating after games or from an injury?

Dirk Nowitzki: Actually in all three situations. Just about all the products I need are custom-made for me at Bauerfeind. They therefore fit perfectly and have become a normal part of my equipment – just like my shoes or uniform.

What’s most important to you when it comes to custom-made medical aids: Effectiveness, comfort, design, color?

Dirk Nowitzki: Effectiveness is most important, of course, and after that comes comfort. I don’t want to say that design and color don’t interest me at all, but the most important thing is that the product should deliver what it promises. Then, if the other aspects are good, so much the better.

Only in Dallas: Seit 1998 ist Dirk Nowitzki für die Dallas Mavericks aktiv.
Only in Dallas: Seit 1998 ist Dirk Nowitzki für die Dallas Mavericks aktiv.

What trick do you use as a big guy when you put on a foot support?

Dirk Nowitzki: You can’t really call it a trick – it’s hard work. To be honest, sometimes I ask our physiotherapist to help me.

You’re over 40 now. When does it start getting harder to stay in shape, or to get in shape for a new season?

Dirk Nowitzki: I’ve been noticing more things in the summer for the last four or five years. I find that I need to make more and more of an effort each year when we start preparing for the new season after the break. Still, once I get started I notice how my energy and mobility and my desire to play basketball return quickly, and then I really start looking forward to the new season as each day goes by – and I’m looking forward to my 21st season as well.

What do you like to do most after a tough game?

Dirk Nowitzki: Well, that’s changed a lot now that I have kids, of course. These days I very much look forward to heading home to spend time with them. Sometimes my whole body aches after a game and the kids horsing around is a little more difficult to deal with at first, but I still find that I can relax very quickly, especially mentally, once I’m around them. That really helps relieve all the stress. 

What do you need to do more today to prevent injuries than you did maybe 15 or 20 years ago?

Dirk Nowitzki: I’ve always put a lot of time into preparing my body for the strain of a game or a season, so I don’t do that much more today than I did in the past. Stretching, stretching, and more stretching – that’s the essential thing. Stabilizing exercises are also important, of course, as are daily massages and manual therapy.

Successful athletes are also role models. Do you believe that this also applies to taking care of one’s own body, or do you even perhaps see yourself as a “health ambassador?”

Dirk Nowitzki: Professional sports put a major strain on the body; there’s no denying that. I experience pain in virtually every joint in my body, but after more than 20 years I guess that’s normal. When you play a sport on a very high level, regardless of which type of sport that is, you very often reach your physical limits, and sometimes you even exceed them. You learn how to deal with pain and even to bear it and accept it in certain situations. Still, that’s definitely only possible if you get the right medical care. So, what I’ve described here is obviously not something that young ambitious athletes or people who play recreational sports should aspire to. Instead, they should listen to the signals their body sends them.

“When you play a sport on a very high level , regardless of which type of sport that is, you very often reach your physical limits, and sometimes you even exceed them.“Dirk Nowitzki

You’ve now started your 21st NBA season with the Dallas Mavericks. No basketball player has ever been with the same team for so long. What’s so special about the team that you never wanted to play anywhere else?

Dirk Nowitzki: It’s the total package that’s always made me want to stay with the Mavs. I was able to experience the greatest success of my career here, I got to know great people who became my friends, and I’ve also felt the respect of the fans. Our team officials have always believed in me, in difficult times as well. They’ve trusted me and appreciated me as both an athlete and a person. I was never simply a player in Dallas; I have always been part of something much bigger than me. My family and I also feel very good in Dallas. Everything has always seemed to be right here, and I very much appreciate what I have here in Dallas.   

What are your thoughts about the upcoming season?

Dirk Nowitzki: With Luka Doncic, we have the player we absolutely wanted to get in the draft. We also now have DeAndre Jordan, a free agent with a lot of experience who came over from the Los Angeles Clippers. Together with Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr., these two new players offer a truly promising foundation for the future. I have a good feeling – I think we’re going to win more games again and that the playoffs are definitely within reach again, despite the fact that the Western Conference will be much better this year than it already was to begin with.

If your children should decide to follow in your footsteps, would it be ok for you if they were to become professional athletes?

Dirk Nowitzki: If they should have the ambition to do that, I would support them in every way, of course. Sports has given me so much. It’s been the most important thing in my life for years and it’s still loads of fun, even at 40. So I couldn’t really say to my kids that I think they should keep away from it.

Do you think your kids will be as tall as you someday?

Dirk Nowitzki: There’s no sign of that at the moment. It would definitely be fine for the boys, but I’m hoping that Malaika doesn’t end up so tall. In any case, we haven’t been monitoring them on this, so to speak; we’re actually pretty relaxed about it.

Images: Bauerfeind

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