DALLAS -- Let the bonding begin.
The Dallas Mavericks left Love Field on Wednesday afternoon on a very long flight to play two preseason games halfway across the world.
Following a 12-hour flight, the Mavericks were expected to land in Berlin, Germany, this morning at 9:25 (Berlin time) to prepare for Saturday's preseason opener against Alba Berlin. On Tuesday, they will face FC Barcelona Regal in Barcelona, Spain, before returning home Wednesday.
With so many new faces on their roster, the Mavericks view this trip as a chance for the players to get to know one another better as well as trying to establish some chemistry on the court against two feisty opponents.
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"We've got eight new guys out of 15 [on the training camp roster], so it's a chance for us to grow together and be a long way away where it's just us," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We're just going to be on the plane a long time and when we wake up we'll be in another part of the world."
It's a world forward Dirk Nowitzki knows well. The perennial All-Star is from Germany.
"I'm always looking forward to going to Germany, and now that I see my schedule, I wonder what am I wishing for?" Nowitzki said after Wednesday's practice. "It's going to be busy, but also fun.
"I've got some family there and some friends. The atmosphere will be great in the gym and hopefully we'll play a great game."
Nowitzki's schedule in Germany will be packed with appearances, a Nike event, practices, an NBA Cares function, and an awards show.
"There will be some functions and stuff, some times on the buses and gyms, and it's good to bond," Nowitzki said. "We're on the plane forever, so it's a good time to get to know each other better and make a step in the right direction.
"For us as a team, we've got to look at it as we can get better and bond some more. I think we've got tons of new people and we'll get to know each other on the road."
While Nowitzki is eager to act as the unofficial tour guide for his teammates, guard Delonte West is eager for another reason.
"I've really never left the United States before, so this is going to be something different for me," West said. "Of course, I've been to Toronto, but never anywhere else, so I'm looking forward to it.
"I want to see everything I've been seeing on The History Channel. I want to see it all -- the Roman Chapel, where Jesus was born."
Contrary to West, guard Dominique Jones isn't too excited about leaving the U.S.
"I'm kind of excited, but then again I'm like, I don't know," Jones said. "I'm not really the type of person that likes to do new things. I like to stick to what I know, so we'll see."
This is the Mavericks' second time to play a preseason game outside the U.S. In 2003, when Eduardo Najera was on their team, they played a preseason game in Mexico City.
Nowitzki, though, doesn't see the trip to Germany as the NBA's way of paying tribute to him.
"Obviously, it's nice that I'm on the Mavericks and it worked out that way that we'll be playing in Germany," Nowitzki said. "I don't really look at it that this is my trip.
"It's the Mavericks' time to go over there. It's finally a dream come true."
Centers Chris Kaman (sprained lower back) and Brandan Wright (strained left quadriceps muscle) went through light workouts Wednesday before making the trip to Germany.
There's a chance both players could play in one of the two preseason games in Europe.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760