How did you feel after your very first slam dunk?

Don't say a word, Dirk Nowitzki! The basketball pro on pain, sitting in airplanes and the smell of gyms.

Born: June 19, 1978in Würzburg
professional basketball player
diploma from German secondary school, 20 years of workout with Holger Geschwindner
Status: bigger than life

If you want to meet with Dirk Nowitzki, you can fly to Dallas. Or, easier, you travel to Franconia in August. That's where the 38-year-old, like every year, is practising with his friend and mentor Holger Geschwindner. This summer: hook shots. Nowitzki could be improving is backhand in tennis instead or lifting his kids to the rim for them to slam dunk. With his 19th NBA season coming up, he could take it easy, already rating among the six most successful players in history, according to the statistics. But as long as he is playing, Nowitzki and Geschwindner are trying to work up to their idea of the perfect player. They are very close: Nowitzki has been NBA champion, most valuable player of the league, has scored more than 29 000 points over the years. Also, for a long time he has been the highest-paid German athlete. And one of the nicest. In the documentary »Nowitzki – The perfect shot« he is asked by the former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt what he is planning for the time after his sports career. Nowitzki mumbles something like »studying business« – obviously he doesn't want to disappoint him. Afterwards, he feels bad for having lied to the old man. On the other hand, why think about the future when your hook shot is not perfect yet?