Two years ago at EuroBasket 2011 in Vilnius, Lithuania, an exhausted Dirk Nowitzki leaned with both hands on the iron railing circling the packed mixed media zone at Siemens Arena after host Lithuania ousted Germany and killed Germany's chances of advancing to the 2012 Olympics in London.
It was a somber scene.
Nowitzki blamed himself for Germany’s woes. He said he was tired and he was not 100 percent in shape after coming off winning his first NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks and the whirlwind world tour that followed.
"I will just have to wait and see what the future brings," Nowitzki said at the time, as the German National Team quickly shifted the focus to a youth movement weeks after EuroBasket 2011 and to preparing for international play at EuroBasket this year in Slovenia.
The team grew up real fast.
In Germany’s opening round against France to start the European championship last Wednesday, a “Dirk-less” Deutschland and the second-younge...