"Everybody wants to be Dirk now," said D'Maurice Taylor, a 16 year-old Harlem resident during a break in the action at New York's famed Rucker Park. "All anybody wants to do now is shoot fallaway jumpers and free throws," he added in a thick, German accent.
As David Hasselhoff music blared from the sidelines, play resumed. Nearby, a schnitzel and beer cart served locals who stopped by the courts to watch the action.
"Das kinder are playing very efficiently today," remarked one local barbershop owner.
The scene is similar in gyms and on courts everywhere. A high school coach in Indiana held a summer camp last weekend and said he couldn't get the campers away from the free throw line to practice their dunking. At the Venice Beach courts in Los Angeles, players were sporting the latest in lederhosen.
While the NBA has long been associated with urban culture, commissioner David Stern says he expects more of a German influence on the league in the coming years.
"We could even see some German teams in the league," he said. "In fact, I hope that happens. Germany's economy is much better than ours is. And right now we play hip hop during our games. Imagine how much more awesome and dramatic our games would be set to Wagner's 'Ride Of The Valkyries.'"