ARLINGTON -- NBA star Dirk Nowitzki was the guest of honor at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday night, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Rangers' game with the Mets.
Nowitzki was the Most Valuable Player of this year's NBA Finals, leading the Mavericks to the first championship in franchise history.
"It's always great to be here," Nowitzki said. "I'm a Rangers fan, I came out last year to support them in their run in the playoffs, and they unfortunately came a little short like we did in '06. Hopefully one day they'll be back on that stage and get it done."
Nowitzki wore a blue Rangers jersey and cap. As he received a standing ovation from the crowd, he walked to the mound with a basketball in hand and a baseball in his pocket.
He went with the basketball first, doing a rendition of his fadeaway jumper and sending it toward Michael Young at home plate. Then Nowitzki took the baseball in hand, fiddled some on the mound and delivered his pitch. Young had to stretch high to grab it as the crowd roared.
"I think I had a little more work in on the jumper, so I think it was a little more fluent," Nowitzki said. "The only thing I wanted to do on the pitch was not keep it low. Everybody's making fun of me, I can't do the John Wall, who obviously left it very low and early low, so I actually kept it a little high, but it was better than a bounce, I guess.
"I haven't really practiced. Last time they gave me like 10 minutes in the back, but today I was so busy and meeting everybody, so I didn't have time to practice. So I think I did all right. But I brought the heat."
Nowitzki then walked off the mound and met Rangers president Nolan Ryan. Nowitzki and Young both signed the basketball and it is being auctioned off at the Texas Rangers Foundation kiosk.
Manager Ron Washington wanted Nowitzki to autograph six balls for him.
"Six?" Nowitzki said. "He had like 15 of them, and so did everybody else. It's great obviously. Thanks to the Rangers for having me and making this happen."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.