Dirk Nowitzki and Salah Mejri’s week in South Africa produced a fun game of basketball, a lifetime of memories for thousands of kids, a Swahili sound bite, and one of the most potent Mavs memes we’ve seen in some time.
Nowitzki and Team World took down Mejri and Team Africa, 108-97, in NBA Africa Game 2017 on Saturday in Johannesburg. Given all that happened before and after the exhibition — houses built for those in need, clinics coached for young children, relationships forged with some of the league’s top talent — the final score was almost a footnote to the rest of the week.
Dirk Nowitzki and Salah Mejri Highlights from NBA Africa Game 2017
Check out some of Dirk Nowitzki and Salah Mejri's highlights from NBA Africa Game 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
By the looks of it, Nowitzki grew close to Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum while working both on and off the floor, whether it was putting up shots in the gym or the frames of homes built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. He also became quite close with New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis, a longtime fan of the Big German’s. Nowitzki said he welcomes the interactions with players around the league in an offseason setting, when the fire of competition doesn’t consume his focus.
“To me, it’s about having fun, about getting to know some of these guys,” Nowitzki said. “During the regular season, I’m a little, I would say, unapproachable for other teams. I don’t talk much during games. I don’t really mingle before the games, I don’t really see anybody after games. It’s all business for me.
“So I think stuff like this or stuff like All-Star Games, where I get to know some of these players, is great for me, to share some of the stories, to get to know some of the younger guys, some of the bright new stars. It’s all so fun for me, as well as hopefully for them.”
Dirk and Kristaps Strengthen Their Friendship
Kristaps Porzingis and Dirk Nowitzki sit down together for a great chat during their time in Johannesburg!
Before heading to Joburg, Nowitzki and his wife Jessica visited her family in Kenya. The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears chronicles their trip here. The Nowitzkis and their three children had previously spent time visiting the rest of Jessica’s family in Sweden and Dirk’s family in Germany. Upon arriving in Kenya, Nowitzki tested out his Swahili when talking to some media. In his own words, he might need some more work. “It really didn’t go well,” the self-deprecating Nowitzki told Spears.
The German has always had a healthy sense of humor, and fortunately that was on full display in Johannesburg. Soccer legend Thierry Henry visited a Team World practice, and afterward Nowitzki was tasked with taking the obligatory team selfie.
— NBA (@NBA) August 4, 2017
His hilarious pose gave us at the Mavericks an idea: Dirk’s vacation can’t just end here. He’s got to see some of the other awesome sports moments from around the world, starting in Dallas. And, so, the #Selfie41 movement started.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) August 4, 2017
Fans have joined in and created their own entries, but probably the funniest one so far was created Monday by the always-hilarious NBA on TNT account.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 7, 2017
Nowitzki later changed his profile picture on Facebook to one of our own creations, and now ESPN is getting in on the fun, too.
Keep creating and adding your own to Dirk’s long list of adventures. He’s been to plenty of places this summer, but there’s always time for him to travel to the Grand Canyon, the Great Pyramids, or even the moon. Let’s make it happen.