The Dallas Mavericks were the laughingstock of the NBA until Dirk Nowitzki showed up. Now nineteen seasons later, the Mavs celebrate his birthday as an ear-to-ear smile streaks across all of Mavs Nation.
In 1998, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Dirk Nowitzki with the ninth pick in the draft. Three selections earlier, the Dallas Mavericks took Robert “Tractor” Traylor with the hopes that he would turn around the team’s terrible fortunes from that decade.
Now nineteen years later, the Dallas Mavericks have been gifted one of the fifteen greatest players in NBA history. 30,000 points, a championship, an MVP, and the rest of a Hall of Fame resume later, the Big German turns 39 before what might be his last NBA season.
With the exception of his rookie year in 1998, Dirk Nowitzki shot a minimum of 45% from the field… until 2015. Despite three head coaches, countless rotating of teammates, and devoid of a star next to him for his entire career, Dirk slowly climbed his way all the way up to sixth on the all-time scoring list. The Mavericks may very well have been the laughingstock of the NBA without Nowitzki.
The NBA has had few, if any, players throughout league history that have been better ambassadors to the sport. The league has seen hundreds of great players, but few have combined their greatness with the level of class, humility, and dignity as Nowitzki. A true professional, Dirk has set a new standard for the NBA by creating a template for the league’s most selfless and complete pro.
Now as he turns 39, Mavs fans should take a moment or three to appreciate the astounding brilliance of Dirk Nowitzki. Who’s ahead of him on the scoring list? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Wilt Chamberlain. That’s it. Dirk’s unmatched ability to shoot as a seven-footer solidifies him as one of the best scorers who ever laced them up.
A true testament to hard work, class, and dedication, Dirk made that draft night trade the greatest robbery in the history of basketball. All of Mavs nation appreciates Dirk beyond words, and says happy birthday to their favorite son.