The NBA'S Global Game Plan

As the world's best hoopsters flock to the U.S., the sport grows more popular--and profitable--abroad

Adjusting to the daily grind, physical play and endless stream of hotel suites can be tough for any rookie in professional basketball. But when the Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki first moved to the NBA four years ago, he faced more of a culture shock than most. Nowitzki, a seven-footer from Germany, couldn't play much defense (which earned him the nickname "Irk") and was briefly tagged, as many European imports are, a "soft" player who shies away from contact. He often found himself riding the bench, so he had lots of time to work on his English.

Now he couldn't feel more...

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