June 13 2011
BETHESDA, Md. -- Last year, Martin Kaymer won his first career major, the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. On Sunday, Dirk Nowitzki won his first NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks. Both players are sports heroes in their native Germany. So who's more famous back home?
"If you asked 100 people in the street who is Dirk Nowitzki and who is Martin Kaymer, they would know him better than me," a smiling Kaymer said Monday from Congressional Country Club. "But I'm working on it."
A win this week at the U.S. Open would certainly continue to raise his profile. Perhaps watching Nowitzki win NBA Finals MVP honors while leading the Mavs past LeBron James and the Miami Heat will inspire Kaymer, who is looking for his first win since early January when he won on the European Tour.
"What Dirk did last night and the last year -- I mean pretty much since he's in America since '98 -- I think's amazing," Kaymer said. "He came here with pretty much nothing. He made his way up there like to one of the best players ever in the NBA. ... I think you should have a lot of respect for that."
Kaymer said he watched with interest as Nowitzki left for the locker room as Sunday’s game ended instead of staying on the court for the immediate celebration. Nowitzki said later that he needed a moment alone, out of the spotlight as he cried tears of joy. Nowitzki eventually returned to raise the NBA and MVP trophies.
"I think he's not the kind of person like the very outgoing person," Kaymer said. "He's more enjoying it for himself. And for me he's a big role model. That's the way I am, as well, a little bit. I'm not very outgoing, so I can compare myself a little bit to him.
“Obviously it was huge for him and I think basketball in Germany, as well. That was the only championship that he hasn't gotten yet. And I hope those things will help to grow sports in my country."
Kaymer has never met Nowitzki but said one of his goals is to attend a Mavericks game next season if he can work it into his schedule.
"I would like to meet him one day and just talk to him a little bit because he's a very nice person," Kaymer said. "That's the way you want to be as an athlete, I believe."