No one saw it coming when Dwyane Wade announced retirement, that we would lose another future Hall of Famer in the same off-season. The German Terminator or the ‘Germinator’ if you will, Dirk Nowitzki announced that the 2018-2019 will be his last season in the NBA. After 21 years dedicated to the team and city of Dallas, Nowitzki called it quits.
Listed at 7’ft, Nowitzki played more like a guard than a forward. He wasn’t the most athletic Power Forward but his shooting for his size was absolutely impeccable, better than any bigman in the league. Coming from Germany, it was hard for Nowitzki to adjust to the playing style in the NBA and if you’re a true fan, you would know the playing style in the 90’s was brutal. And all this led to a very disappointing rookie season for Dirk. But it did not take him long to turn around his game and elevate it like no one else as he became the team leader in points and rebounds the very next season. Nowitzki and Steve Nash came into the league together and quickly formed good chemistry both on and off the court. Eventually Dirk and Nash became a deadly duo for opposing teams. Nash being an excellent ball facilitator paired with Nowitzki’s ability to shoot over anyone did make life harder for opposing coaches and players around the league. Although early playoff exits broke the duo when Nash went onto the Phoenix Suns, winning 2 back to back MVP’s right away. However, Nowitzki wasn’t far behind as he won the league MVP right after Nash.
After the departure of Nash, Nowitzki was the sole leader of the team. Players looked up to him and coaches would want the ball in his hands in crunch time. He took the leadership role, beat Steve Nash and the Suns in the western conference finals to advance onto the NBA finals for the first time in NBA history. Dirk gave it his all but fell short in 6 games to Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. That’s when the transition began and the Mavericks made it back to the NBA finals after 5 years to face the Miami Heat once again. Wade was paired with Shaquille O’Neal in their last championship run when they defeated Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks in ’06. But this time it was a newly formed big three of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James against Nowitzki. The big three were a huge threat as the Wade & James duo was a nightmare in open court and a skilled bigman like Bosh was more than able to handle the paint. It was a whole new ballgame for Nowitzki with new threats in the same old territory. Although it was Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks that prevailed over the hyped big three pulling off an upset and bringing the first NBA championship to the city of Dallas.
For me, that was it. Nowitzki’s legacy was now complete. A 14-time all-star, 12-time all NBA team and the first European to ever win MVP, add a championship to that list and it just seems complete. Nowitzki has had many accolades in his 21-year career. He is the only player ever to play 21 seasons for a single franchise. It’s this type of loyalty that makes you love the guy even more. One of the most versatile bigman to ever play the game, Nowitzki is a lock for future Hall-of-Famer. His signature one-leg fadeaway has always been butter, so much that players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and even LeBron James went onto use his fadeaway technique. He will definitely go down as one of the best European players of all time.
For all the highlights, all the buzzer-beaters and that Game 2 drive against Bosh to win the game, thank you, Dirk Nowitzki.