Dallas Mavericks

NBA star Dirk Nowitzki talks tennis history before charity event

Mavericks F Harrison Barnes says Dirk is a top-five closer in NBA history

The new Mav speaks at Team USA's media day Thursday in Rio.
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The new Mav speaks at Team USA's media day Thursday in Rio.

Dirk Nowitzki is a 13-time NBA all star, an NBA champion, the 2011 Finals MVP, the 2007 NBA MVP and has scored the sixth-most points in NBA history.

Most people know that Nowitzki is a future Hall of Famer, but behind the scenes, the Dallas Mavericks superstar is always involved in the community as well as different charities and foundations.

In the summer, Nowitzki hosts his annual Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco.

The 18-year NBA veteran has added another charitable event in the inaugural Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic set for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at SMU tennis center in Dallas. The event benefits the children’s charities of the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation.

“I’m real excited. We’ve been talking about this, planning this for a few years and it never really came together right, but this year we’re doing it and I’m excited,” Nowitzki said. “Great support, great sponsors as always and a great place at SMU. We got some great celebs coming out, should be a blast.”

Tickets cost $100 (13 and older), $41 (3-12) and free for children 2 and under, and can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com or at the door on Sunday. For more details, go to dnfoundation.org.

Parking will be limited with available spaces at Mockingbird Station. If there’s inclement weather, games will be played on the indoor courts.

“There are world class players, and the event should be fun for everybody,” Nowitzki said.

On Thursday, in addition to answering questions, Nowitzki showed off a few swings and serves with Mark Knowles, the former world No. 1 player in doubles.

Tennis was Nowitzki’s first sport.

“My parents played and we hung out at the tennis court. The kids were just running around and I picked up a racket when I was four or five,” Nowitzki said. “I was playing competitive there until 14 or 15, traveled around Germany and played in tournaments.

“I’ve played all sorts of sports for charity and this is actually something I’m halfway decent at. I’m terrible at baseball; soccer, I embarrassed myself over the summer and tennis is actually something I can hold my own a bit. I still love to play, it’s a fun sport.”

Joining Nowitzki and Knowles in the round-robin competition are Andy Roddick, John Isner, Benjamin Becker, Boris Kodjoe, J.J. Barea, Harrison Barnes, Mitchell Krueger and Ben Stiller.

“We haven’t actually met yet, but I know he follows me on Twitter so I just slid into his DMs as the kids like to say these days, and I knew he was a big tennis fan,” Nowitzki said of Stiller. “For fun, I hit him up and I didn’t think I was going to get a response. He’s a busy guy, but he responded the same day, which made my day.”

“It should be a blast and I’m glad these celebrities - have tons of stuff going on - and for them to come out here and support means a lot to me and the foundation.”

The new Mav speaks at Team USA's media day Thursday in Rio.

Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic

Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

SMU Tennis Center, 5555 N. Central Expressway, Dallas

Tickets are $100 for spectators 13 and older; $41 for children 3-12, and free for children 2 and under.

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