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Muhammad Ali’s ‘greatest’ gift to Dirk Nowitzki

Former heavyweight champion and legendary sports icon Muhammad Ali didn't waste any time in letting the most recent NBA Finals MVP know exactly how he feels. According to Dirk Nowitzki(notes) -- last month's main man as the Dallas Mavericks won it all -- Ali sent him a glove after Dallas' Finals win with an inscription that read "You are the greatest."

Minutes before he strode onto a balcony to greet his fans and followers in his hometown of Wurzburg, Germany, Dirk took the time to answer several pointed questions for Spiegel, Germany's most famous and prominent weekly magazine. And while we should probably be wary of the translation inherent in back and forth sessions like these (there are some questions and answers that scan a little dodgy once translated to English), the story behind the Ali sustains.

Here's the passage from Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: Did any German politicians call to congratulate you?

Nowitzki: I think that (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel called my adviser. I'm not totally sure. But do you know what made me the happiest?

SPIEGEL: What?

Nowitzki: Muhammad Ali sent me a package.

SPIEGEL: What was in it?

Nowitzki: A boxing glove with the inscription: "You are the greatest." Please don't ask me immediately about the political meaning of the gift. I was simply happy and sent Ali a golden basketball with a similar inscription.

Pretty sweet deal, Muhammad Ali. A boxing glove with a fawning note, traded for a basketball made of gold?

Muhammad Ali’s ‘greatest’ gift to Dirk NowitzkiRacket jokes aside, you have to wonder if Ali and his family are in the habit of sending these sorts of gifts to either every NBA Finals MVP, every obvious franchise player behind the best teams of the NBA season, or even the top players on every championship team that rolls down the baseball/football/basketball pike a few times a year.

Even if he's sending these out four or five times in a calendar year, this is clearly a very cool move by Ali. How breathtaking -- literally breathtaking -- would that be to open up?

And if that gift was one of a kind, for at least the recent times? You're a lucky dude, Dirk Nowitzki.

You're also pretty well deserving. Just don't Wurzburg it up too much, strap on the gloves, and decide to take anyone on that dares make fun of Jose Juan Barea's height. We need those shooting wrists intact when the next NBA season starts, sometime in 2014.

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