The Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, a German, is the first European to be named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, for his performance this spring against the Miami Heat. Pictured here in 1997, Mr. Nowitzki stands seven feet tall. Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom/File
Dirk Nowitzki, pictured in 2000, started playing for the Dallas Mavericks as a forward in 1998 after playing on the DJK Würzburg basketball club in Germany. Brian Spurlock/SportsChrome/Newscom/File
Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (r.) goes up for a shot while the Sixers' Dikembe Motumbo, Matt Geiger, and Matt Harpring look on at the First Union Center in Philadelphia on October 9, 2001. Delane B. Rouse/Ai Wire Photo Service/Newscom/File
Dirk Nowitzki celebrates a layup and a foul against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 28, 2002. Brad Loper/KRT/Newscom/File
Dirk Nowitzki clowns around with his former coach and current personal trainer, Holger Geschwindner. Mr. Geschwindner discovered Mr. Nowitzki and groomed him for professional basketball. Imago/Icon SMI/Newscom/File
In his spare time, Dirk Nowitzki enjoys playing the saxophone. His coach, Holger Geschwindner, encouraged him to study music and read literature to make him a more well-rounded person. Imago/Icon SMI/Newscom/File
Dirk Nowitzki (GER) shoots during Greece's convincing 78-62 victory over Germany to win the EuroBasket Championship 2005 at Belgrade Arena in Belgrade, Serbia, on Sept. 25, 2005. Greece won the gold medal for the first time since 1987. Imago/Imago/Icon SMI/Newscom/File
Dirk Nowitzki takes a shoeless shot on a bet from coach Don Nelson (l.) at the Finley and Friends Make-A-Wish charity tournament at the Trophy Club near Dallas on June 30, 2003. Nathan Hunsinger/KRT/Newscom/File
Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki yells at an official during Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 20, 2006. Rhona Wise/Icon SMI/Newscom/File
Dirk Nowitzki drives to the basket against New Orleans Hornets forward Didier Ilunga-Mbenga in Dallas on Nov. 15, 2010. Brendan Sullivan/Dallas Morning News/MCT/Newscom/File
Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates defeating the Miami Heat to win the NBA Finals in Miami on June 12. Mr. Nowitzki finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds as the Mavericks won the best-of-seven championship series four-games-to-two to claim their first NBA championship in franchise history. Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom/File
Many worry a new EU mission – which replaces a larger Italian effort patrolling for refugees traveling from North Africa to Europe – means more migrants will die. This year, more than 3,000 people have perished – five times as many as in 2013.
They are packed into the stinking holds of ramshackle boats. Water and food are scarce, and they are beaten by ruthless smugglers if they dare to try to reach the deck for a lungful of air. The more truculent have at times simply been thrown overboard.