SPIEGEL: Did any German politicians call to congratulate you?
Nowitzki: I think that (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel called my adviser. I'm not totally sure. But do you know what made me the happiest?
Nowitzki: Muhammad Ali sent me a package.
SPIEGEL: What was in it?
Nowitzki: A boxing glove with the inscription: "You are the greatest." Please don't ask me immediately about the political meaning of the gift. I was simply happy and sent Ali a golden basketball with a similar inscription.
SPIEGEL: At the end of August, the European basketball championships are beginning in Lithuania. Are you going to play for the German national team?
Nowitzki: It looks that way. Assuming that I finally get healthy. I have been carrying a flu bug around with me for four weeks. It makes no sense to play in the European championships if I am only halfway healthy. Neither for me nor for my team mates.
SPIEGEL: The tournament also serves as the qualification for the Olympic Games in London in 2012.
Nowitzki: And that's why I definitely want to play. I don't want to ruin the others' chances of participating in the Olympics. To qualify, we have to finish at least sixth at the European championships.
SPIEGEL: The NBA is currently experiencing a labor dispute and as yet, no agreement between the players and the owners has been reached. There is a real possibility that there will be no NBA season next year. There are rumors that you would consider playing in the German league in such a situation.
Nowitzki: Hopefully it won't come to that. I am certain that an agreement will be reached and that I will play another three or four years for the Mavericks at the highest level before I end my career in America.
SPIEGEL: You have a long season behind you. How are you going to get fit before the European championships?
Nowitzki: First of all, I am going on vacation together with my girlfriend. I am happy that she is at my side. I don't like being alone. I plan to occupy myself with things other than basketball, like drums, for example. It would be too bad if all the lessons that I have taken were wasted.
SPIEGEL: Do you play well?
Nowitzki: Well, it's difficult. You have to achieve a certain amount of motor independence when drumming. Your hands have to ignore what your feet are doing and you can't allow them to get in the way of each other. But if I could learn to do that, it would really help my basketball. If I had known that before, I would have taken up the drums much earlier.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Nowitzki, thank you very much for this interview.
Interview conducted by Cathrin Gilbert
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