Dallas Mavericks in the NBA final: Kleber aims for biggest triumph after national team dispute

Dallas Mavericks in the NBA finals
Kleber aims for biggest triumph after national team dispute

Maxi Kleber could become not only the second German, but also the second Würzburg NBA champion. Like Dirk Nowitzki, he also plays for the Dallas Mavericks, even the jersey numbers are almost the same. Only his task on the way to the title is different.

Maximilian Kleber feels the aura of the great Dirk Nowitzki everywhere in Dallas. “Every time Dirk is at a game and is shown on the screen, everyone cheers,” says the Dallas Mavericks basketball pro. “We still have Nowitzki Way in front of the hall.” The hard worker Kleber is unlikely to get his own street or even a statue – and yet he could at least begin to follow in Nowitzki’s iconic footsteps with an NBA championship.

Nowitzki and Kleber, both from Würzburg, would be the only two NBA champions from Germany if the Mavs beat the Boston Celtics in the final series, which will take place on Friday night. (2.30 a.m./DAZN) A lifelong dream for every basketball player. This is also the case for Kleber, who was still a student and graduating from high school in 2011 when Nowitzki made himself immortal as final MVP with the first title. If Kleber succeeds the “big blond” 13 years later, he could probably get over his Olympic exit very well.

Left out of DBB’s World Cup sensation

After the dispute with national team captain Dennis Schröder last year, after which Kleber announced that he would not be taking part in the World Cup and Germany sensationally won the title, Kleber ruled out his participation in the Olympics early on. “Some things are just not meant to be,” said Kleber in an interview with ran. As a result, he was missing from the provisional 16-man squad for Paris, which national coach Gordon Herbert announced on Tuesday. The full focus is now on the NBA finals, especially since Kleber has only just returned from a shoulder injury.

Nowitzki will certainly be watching the game against Boston, and his old teammate Kleber still likes to chat with him at Mavs home games. Officially, Nowitzki acts as an advisor in Dallas, but Kleber no longer needs advice. With seven years of NBA experience under his belt, the 2.08 meter giant is considered a permanent fixture in the team around superstars Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving. Unlike the two – or Nowitzki before them – Kleber is not responsible for the tricks that go viral on social media. The Franconian is paid to work too hard so that others can shine. Nowitzki’s jersey with the number 41 hangs under the ceiling of the hall and is no longer given away; Kleber wears the 42 – and knows his role.

“Three and D”, defending and occasionally hitting a three-pointer – that’s his specialty. “With Kyrie and Luka, we have two experts who can play well on offense,” says Kleber himself: “For me, it’s about playing well defensively, making the right plays and getting my teammates free.” These qualities are worth a total of 33 million US dollars to the Mavs, which Kleber will earn through his three-year contract that runs until 2026. If Kleber makes the golden pass to Dončić in the seventh game of the final against Boston, every penny will have been worth it.

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