FRISCO — As a mega-sports star himself, Dirk Nowitzki is very familiar with the numerous time demands placed on celebrities who get pulled in several directions.
Thus, the newly retired Dallas Mavericks’ icon is taken aback that so many professional sports stars take time out of their busy schedules to participate in Nowitzki’s 2019 Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game – set for Friday at 7 p.m. at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco.
Mavs players Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Devin Harris, Dwight Powell, Justin Jackson and Courtney Lee are on board to play, as well as proprietor Mark Cuban. Guard J J. Barea, still recuperating from right Achilles tendon surgery, will serve as one of the two team managers.
Several Dallas Cowboys — including quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, offensive linemen Tyron Smith, La’el Collins and Joe Looney, linebacker Jaylon Smith, and defensive backs Anthony Brown, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis – also will participate in the game.
In addition, former Mavs players Michael Finley, Shawn Marion and Dennis Smith Jr., along with ex-Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and other celebrities from the entertainment industry, will get their turns at-bat in this popular celebrity game.
“It’s humbling that guys make room in their schedules — I know how it is,” Nowitzki told Mavs.com. “As celebrities we have tons of hours on our schedule all the time, and you get yanked in a different direction at all times.
“For those guys to make time and make that game a priority and show up every year, it’s very humbling. But I think it’s also because the event is so much fun (and why) a lot of fans come out and support it every year.”
Yet another sellout crowd is expected to attend the game, which will benefit the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation and the Heroes Foundation. After the seven-inning contest, there will be a 10-minute fireworks display.
A few tickets remain (starting at $11) at TicketReturn.com, by calling 866-698-4253 or visiting the Dr Pepper Ballpark box office.
This will be the eighth year Nowitzki has hosted this celebrity baseball game after he took over the reins from former Dallas Stars center Mike Modano, who hosted it for 10 years before handing the baton to the Mavs’ superstar. Since he announced his retirement from the NBA in April after playing 21 seasons for the Mavs, Nowitzki acknowledged he isn’t sure how much longer he’ll host this celebrity baseball game.
“I always thought once I’m done (with basketball) I’m not going to do (the baseball game) anymore, but it’s been going so well,” Nowitzki said. “I actually don’t know how long I’m going to do it.
“It’s been a lot of fun and a no-brainer. As long as it’s still fun, we’ll see how it goes.”
For Nowitzki, so far, so good.
“It’s been a blast and obviously has raised a ton of money for our charity and the Heroes Foundation, so it’s been a win-win situation for everybody,” Nowitzki said. “So many celebrities have come out to play.
“All the Cowboys come every year. The support has been incredible from the community, from celebrities, from the media that’s covering it.”
A 14-time All-Star, Nowitzki’s one hope is for fans to come out and enjoy themselves while watching some of their favorite sports stars try and hit a baseball.
“I wish I was a little better in baseball, but it’s really a great event for the family, for kids with all the shows that come between the innings, and obviously the fireworks,” Nowitzki said. “It’s just a fun event for families, for older kids, for older people.”