Dirk Nowitzki just finished his entire 21 year NBA career in Dallas Mavericks blue and green. Leaving the fans with bragging rights to a different type of NBA icon. Here is why Dirk is separate from NBA stars of the past two decades.
On June 24th, 1998, fans of the Dallas Mavericks were gifted with a young and raw Dirk Nowitzki from Wurzburg, Germany. In a draft-day trade, Dirk, along with Pat Garrity, were acquired for the draft rights to big man Robert Traylor.
In the same trade, Pat Garrity was immediately redirected to Phoenix for struggling point guard, Steve Nash, who turned out to become one of Dirk’s best friends and a future Hall of Famer.
Understandably at the time, critics were praising the Bucks for the acquisition of Robert Traylor for nimble and unproven foreign big man Dirk Nowitzki. Traylor was coming out of college absolutely dominating the paint and owning post players. The league was still in a paint domination era and it made sense at the time. Don Nelson obviously was investing in the future of the NBA and had faith in the greatest of all-time Dallas Maverick.
Throughout two decades with the Mavericks, we have seen Dirk struggle, lose, criticized and spoken down to by mainstream media members. Dirk’s reputation early in his career was described by the media as soft and weak and that he would never be a winner while leading a team.
Mavs Fans Have a Reason to Brag
In the modern NBA, players and agents are gaining the power of pulling the strings more and more each year. Star players are now deciding where they want to play, even under contract with a certain team.
With AAU basketball becoming the powerhouse that it is today, NBA players grow up playing with each other and building relationships even before they get to college. It is very rare that you see a star player in the modern NBA play the majority of or their entire career with one team.
Mavs fans are blessed to have the face of their team never publicly demand a trade or bring locker room or team issues to the media. Of course, sports media is much larger than it was even ten years ago, but that doesn’t discredit Dirk from never publicly shaming the organization when things didn’t go their way.
There were many playoff failures for Dirk and the Mavericks in the early to late 2000s, including multiple playoff exits and a botched finals appearance against the Miami Heat. Failure and strife can be the greatest motivator, especially for a professional athlete. Dirk Nowitzki failed numerous times in his career but never gave up on the team, city or the fans.
This is what makes players like Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan so admirable as not only players but human beings as well. Even with questionable decision making by Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban, Dirk has been dedicated to the city of Dallas and the fans.
The humility that he held through his time playing pro ball was on another level over other NBA stars and always giving credit when credit was due. Dirk notoriously has always treated media members, fans and Mavericks staff with the utmost respect and has shown his tender character through his actions and words. Every past and present teammate that Dirk had, had nothing but good things to say about him.
Now the torch is passed to another foreign player, Luka Doncic. He will be teaming up with his partner in crime, Kristaps Porzingis to terrorize the league for the next decade. The next face or faces of the franchise had a half or a full year to spend time with the greatest Maverick of all time.
Fans can only hope they have paid attention to the qualities that Dirk brought to the Mavs for 21 seasons. While Nowitzki is officially done with playing, fans should expect him to be in the news within the next couple of years as a member of the front office. Any team would bend over backward to obtain the character and personality that Dirk has to work in their organization.