He may be considered as one of the all-time international NBA players, but Dirk Nowitzki has admitted that before he shot hoops, he was a tennis buff.

After organizing his inaugural Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic at Southern Methodist University last Sunday which was by his celebrity friends to raise funds for charities, the 13-time NBA-star had this to say, via the Star-Telegram:

“So many guys came out to support this, and I know obviously celebs get pulled in a million directions. So for these guys to make time and come in here from all over the place means a lot to me and the foundation.”

Celebs in attendance

From comedian Ben Stiller, former tennis pro Andy Roddick, Dallas Mavericks President Donnie Nelson, to Nowitzki’s teammate, J.J. Barea, everyone on hand had a great time playing as well as helping the less fortunate.

Nelson talked about how his franchise player has established his roots in Dallas after spending his entire 18-year NBA career there and how he has tried to help the community. He also shared a story on how the 2011 MVP used to play competitive tennis with a former Mavs player, Chris Anstey:

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“This is just another sign of Dirk being who he is, and he’s just giving back to the community, he’s got the baseball game that he does every spring, and I’m sure this [tennis tournament] is going to turn into a really cool fall event.

“Chris was a world-ranked tennis player in Australia, and he and Dirk, back in the day, used to have some pretty crazy awesome tennis matches, those two guys playing at the net — can you imagine —nothing is going to get over those two guys.”

Why Dirk Nowitzki loves tennis

After the successful event, Dirk Nowitzki dicussed why he thinks tennis is a great sport and made everyone know what he’ll be doing a lot of once he retires from his basketball career:

“Tennis is just a sport I was always close to, and I love it, you can play until you’re 50 to 60. My dad is still out there at [age] 70 playing doubles sometimes. So it’s going to be a sport that I’m going to be playing a long, long time after my career.”

Safe to say, the 18-year NBA veteran will remain in sports even after his illustrious NBA career. Though it may not be basketball, he’ll be happy to be with his first love.