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Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Werner Nowitzki (German pronunciation: [ˈdɪʁk ˈvɛʁnɐ noˈvɪtski]) (born June 19, 1978) is a German professional basketball player for the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). An alumnus of Röntgen Gymnasium and the DJK Würzburg basketball club, Nowitzki was chosen as the ninth pick in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucksand immediately traded to the Mavericks, where he has played since. A 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) power forward, he has the athleticism and shooting ability to play either center or small forward. He is considered one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history.[1]

Nowitzki led the Mavericks to 12 consecutive NBA Playoffs (2001–2012), including the franchise's first Finals appearance in 2006 and only championship in 2011. He is a 12-time All-Star, a 12-time All-NBA Team member, and the first European player to start in an All-Star Game as well as the first to win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award (2007).[2] He is the first Maverick voted onto an All-NBA Team and holds several all-time Mavericks franchise records.[3] Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Nowitzki are the only players to achieve four consecutive 30-point, 15-rebound post-season games.[citation needed] Nowitzki is ranked 12th in all-time scoring and he is the only player in NBA-history to manage four-digit values in rebounds, blocks, steals, assists and 3-pointers.[4][5] Besides him, only Rasheed Wallace achieved over 100 blocks and 150 3-pointers in a single season.[6] Nowitzki is the only seven-footer to win the NBA Three-Point Shootout (2006).

Nowitzki led the German national basketball team to a bronze medal in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and silver in EuroBasket 2005, and was the leading scorer and Most Valuable Player in both tournaments. He was named the Euroscar European Basketball Player of the Year by the Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport for five years running from 2002 to 2006 and again in 2011.[7] He was also named the Mister Europa European Player of the Year by the Italian sports magazine Superbasket in 2005, and the FIBA Europe Basketball Player of the Year twice in 2005 and 2011.[3] He was named Eurobasket's All-Europeans Player of the Year from 2005 to 2008, and again in 2011.

On December 18, 2011, Nowitzki was named the 2011 German Sports Personality of the Year for the first time.[8] In 2012, he became the first non-American player to win the Naismith Legacy Award.

Early yearsEdit

Born in WürzburgGermany, Nowitzki comes from an athletic family: his mother Helga Bredenbröcker Nowitzki was a professional basketball player and his father Jörg-Werner was ahandball player who represented Germany at the highest international level.[10] His older sister Silke Nowitzki, a local champion in track and field, also became a basketball player and now works for the NBA in International TV.[3][11]

Nowitzki was a very tall child; most of the time he stood above his peers by a foot or more.[10] He initially played handball and tennis, but soon grew tired of being called a "freak" for his height and eventually turned to basketball.[12] After joining the local DJK Würzburg, the 15-year-old attracted the attention of former German international basketball player Holger Geschwindner, who spotted his talent immediately and offered to coach him individually two to three times per week. After getting both the approval of Nowitzki and his parents, Geschwindner put his student through an unorthodox training scheme: he emphasized shooting and passing exercises, and shunned weight training and tactical drills, because he felt it was "unnecessary friction."[13] Furthermore, Geschwindner encouraged Nowitzki to play a musical instrument and read literature to make him a more complete personality.[13]

After a year, the coach was so impressed with Nowitzki's progress that he advised him: "You must now decide whether you want to play against the best in the world or just stay a local hero in Germany. If you choose the latter, we will stop training immediately, because nobody can prevent that anymore. But if you want to play against the best, we have to train on a daily basis." After pondering this lifetime decision for two days, Nowitzki agreed to enter the full-time training schedule, choosing the path to his eventual international career. Geschwindner let him train seven days a week with DJK Würzburg players and future German internationals Robert Garrett, Marvin Willoughby and Demond Greene, and in the summer of 1994, then 16-year-old Nowitzki made the DJK squad.

DJK Würzburg (1994–98)Edit

When Nowitzki joined the team, DJK played in the Second Bundesliga, South Division. His first trainer was Pit Stahl, who played the tall teenager as an outside-scoring forward rather than an inside-scoring center to utilise his shooting skills.[15] In the 1994–95 Second Bundesliga season, ambitious DJK finished as a disappointing sixth of 12 teams; the rookie Nowitzki was often benched and struggled with bad school grades, which forced him to study rather than work on his game.[16] In the next 1995–96 Second Bundesliga season, Nowitzki established himself as a starter next to Finnish star forward Martti Kuisma and soon became a regular double-digit scorer: after German national basketball coach Dirk Bauermann saw him score 24 points in a DJK game, he stated that "Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest German basketball talent of the last 10, maybe 15 years." DJK finished second in the South Division, but could not earn promotion after losing, 86–62, in the deciding match versus BG Ludwigsburg: in that game, Nowitzki scored only eight points.[17]

In the 1996–97 Second Bundesliga season, the team's top scorer Kuisma left the team, and Geschwindner replaced Pit Stahl as head coach. Filling the void, Nowitzki averaged 19.4 points per game and led DJK again to second place after the regular season, but could not help his team gain promotion.[18] In the following 1997–98 Second Bundesliga season, Nowitzki finished his "Abitur" (German A-levels), but had to do compulsory military service in the Bundeswehr (German Military) which lasted from September 1, 1997 to June 30, 1998;[3] Nowitzki described this period as "a tough time at first; we had no privileges and had to participate in all the drills...later (after finishing the tough "Grundausbildung," the most intensive initial part of the service) it was much more relaxed."[19] Concerning basketball, the 18-year old, who had grown to 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) tall, made progress, leading DJK to a 36:4 point total (in Germany, a victory gives 2:0 points and a loss 0:2) and ending as leading scorer with 28.2 points per game. In the promotion playoffs, DJK finally broke its hex, finishing at first place with 14:2 points and earning promotion; Nowitzki scored 26 points in the deciding 95–88 win against Freiburg and was voted "German Basketballer of the Year" by the German BASKET magazine.[20]

Abroad, Nowitzki's progress was noticed. In 1996, FC Barcelona Bàsquet wanted to sign him, but Nowitzki refused to move before finishing his Abitur.[21] A year later, the teenager participated in the Nike "Hoop Heroes Tour," where he played against NBA stars like Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen. In a 30-minute show match, Nowitzki outplayed Barkley and even dunked on him, causing the latter to exclaim: "The boy is a genius. If he wants to enter the NBA, he can call me."[22] On March 29, 1998, Nowitzki was chosen to play in the Nike Hoop Summit, one of the premier talent watches in U.S. men's basketball. In a match between the U.S. talents and the international talents, Nowitzki scored 33 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 14 rebounds and 3 steals for the internationals[3] and outplayed future US NBA stars Rashard Lewis and Al Harrington. He impressed with a combination of quickness, ball handling, and shooting range, and from that moment a multitude of European and NBA clubs wanted to recruit him.

Dallas Mavericks (1998–present)Edit

Difficult start (1998–99)[edit]Edit

After leading DJK Würzburg to promotion and with his Abitur and military service behind him, Nowitzki looked to the NBA for his future. Projected to be seventh pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, he passed up many college offers and went directly into the NBA as a then-still rare prep-to-pro player.[24] In particular, Rick Pitino and Don Nelson, head coaches of the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks respectively, were highly interested in acquiring him. After a 45-minute private workout with Pitino, where Nowitzki showcased his versatile shooting, rebounding and passing skills, the Boston coach immediately compared him to Celtics legend Larry Bird; Pitino assured Nowitzki that he would draft him with the Celtics' first-round draft pick at #10.[25]

However, Pitino's plan was foiled by Nelson, whose team had the sixth pick. Nelson worked out draft day deals with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns: the Mavericks wanted Nowitzki and Suns reserve point guard Steve Nash; the Bucks desired muscular forward Robert Traylor, who was projected to be drafted before Nowitzki; and the Suns had set their sights on forward Pat Garrity, who was projected as a low first round pick. In the draft, the Mavericks drafted Traylor with their sixth pick, and the Bucks selected Nowitzki with their ninth and Garrity with their nineteenth pick. The Mavericks then traded Traylor to the Bucks for Nowitzki and Garrity, and they in return traded the latter to Phoenix for Nash.

In retrospect, Don Nelson, who had once coached the Bucks, had an outstanding trade instinct, essentially trading future career underachievers Traylor and Garrity for two future NBA MVPs in Nowitzki and Nash; in addition, the new recruits quickly became close friends.[25] Nowitzki became only the fourth German player in NBA history, following pivots Uwe Blab and Christian Welp and All-Star swingman Detlef Schrempf, who was a 35-year old veteran of theSeattle SuperSonics when his young compatriot arrived. Nowitzki finished his DJK career as the only Würzburg player to have ever made the NBA.[26]

In Dallas, Nowitzki joined a franchise which had last made the playoffs in 1990. Shooting guard Michael Finley captained the squad, supported by 7-foot-6-inch (2.29 m) center Shawn Bradley, once a number two draft pick, and team scoring leader Cedric Ceballos, an ex-Laker forward. Nowitzki experienced a rocky start: prior to the 1998–99 NBA season, NBA commissioner David Stern wanted to introduce a salary cap, causing the NBA players' union to declare a strike, the combination putting the entire season in jeopardy. In limbo, Nowitzki returned to DJK Würzburg and played thirteen games before both sides worked out a late compromise deal that resulted in a shortened schedule of only 50 instead of 82 regular season games.[27]

When the season finally started, Nowitzki struggled. Played as a power forward by coach Don Nelson, the lanky 20-year old felt overpowered by the more athletic NBA forwards, was intimidated by the expectations as a number nine pick, and played bad defense, causing hecklers to taunt him as "Irk Nowitzki," omitting the "D" which stands for "defense" in basketball slang.[28] He only averaged 8.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 20.4 minutes of playing time.[29] Looking back, Nowitzki said: "I was so frustrated I even contemplated going back to Germany. ... [the jump from Second Bundesliga to the NBA] was like jumping out of an airplane hoping the parachute would somehow open." The Mavericks only won 19 of their 50 games and missed the playoffs,[30] although Nowitzki completed the season with eight double-digit scoring games out of the last twelve.[3]

"Big Three" (1999–2004)[edit]Edit

1999–2000 season

In the 1999–2000 NBA season, Don Nelson wanted to use Nowitzki as a point forward to make use of his passing skills.[31] However, one of the most important moves was made off the hardwood: until then, the owner of the Mavericks was Ross Perot, Jr., who had bought the franchise for $125 million, but had no plans of investing in players and admitted he knew little of basketball.[32] On January 4, 2000, he sold the Mavericks to Internet billionaire Mark Cuban for $280 million. Cuban quickly invested into the Mavericks and restructured the franchise, attending every game at the sidelines, buying the team a $46 million six-star Boeing 757 for traveling, and increasing franchise revenues to over $100 million. Nowitzki lauded Cuban: "He created the perfect environment... we only have to go out and win."[33] As a result of Nelson's tutelage, Cuban's improvements and his own progress, Nowitzki significantly improved his averages. The second-year pro now averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in 35.8 minutes,[29] had nine double-double games, and scored a career-high 32 points twice.[3] He was voted runner-up in the NBA Most Improved Player Award behind Jalen Rose, and made it into the NBA All-Star Sophomore squad along with peers Paul Pierce and Vince Carter.[3] In the traditional Rookie-Sophomore match, he scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out 4 assists in an overtime loss against the rookie team led by Steve Francis and Lamar Odom.[34] The 7-foot-0-inch (2.13 m) Nowitzki also was chosen for the NBA All-Star Three Point Shootout, becoming the tallest player ever to participate. After draining 15 shots in a row in the first shootout, he entered the final round, where he finished as runner-up to Jeff Hornacek.[34] While he improved on an individual level, the Mavericks missed the playoffs after a mediocre 40–42 season.[34]

2000–01 season

In the 2000–01 NBA season, Nowitzki further improved his averages, recording 21.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.[29] Now playing the power forward position, he became the second player in NBA history after Robert Horry to score 100 3-pointers and 100 blocks in the regular season by registering 151 and 101, respectively.[3] As a sign of his growing importance, he joined team captain Finley as only one of two Mavericks to play and start in all 82 games and had 10 games in which he scored at least 30 points.[3] Nowitzki became the first Maverick ever to be voted into the All-NBA squads, making the Third Team.[3] In addition, his best friend Nash became a valuable point guard, and with Finley scoring more than ever, pundits were calling this trio the "Big Three" of the Mavericks.

Posting a 53–29 record in the regular season,[35] the Mavericks reached the playoffs for the first time since 1990.[36] As the fifth seed, they were paired against the Utah Jazz of all-time assist leader John Stockton and second all-time leading scorer Karl Malone. After losing the first two games, Nowitzki scored 33 points in Games 3 and 4 and helped to tie the series.[37] In Game 5, the Mavericks trailed the entire game until Calvin Booth made a lay-up that put them ahead, 84–83, with 9.8 seconds left. Jazz players Bryon Russell and Malone missed last-second shots and the Mavericks won, setting up a meeting with Texas rivals San Antonio Spurs.[37] The Mavericks lost the first 3 games, and Nowitzki fell ill with flu and later lost a tooth after a collision with Spurs guard Terry Porter. After a Game 4 win, Nowitzki scored 42 points and 18 rebounds in Game 5, but could not prevent a deciding 105–87 loss.[38] While Sports Illustrated pointed out that the Mavericks shot badly during Game 5, Nowitzki was lauded for scoring his playoff career-high 42 points. Nowitzki said: "It's a disappointment to end the season on a blowout."[39]

2001–02 season

Prior to the 2001–02 NBA season, Nowitzki signed a six-year, $90 million contract extension, which made him the second highest-paid German athlete after Formula One champion Michael Schumacher.[40] He continued to improve, now averaging 23.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, was voted into the All-NBA Second Team and into his first All-Star Game.[29] He also had 13 games with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds, third behind Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan.[3] Powered by new recruit Nick Van Exel, who became a high-scoring sixth man, the Mavericks "Big Three" convincingly made the playoffs with a 57–25 record.[41]

The Mavericks swept Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2002 NBA Playoffs 3–0: Nowitzki outscored Garnett with 33.3 points per game versus 24.0.[42] In the second round, the Mavericks met theSacramento Kings with rival power forward Chris Webber. After splitting the first two games, Kings coach Rick Adelman changed his defensive scheme: before, Webber had defended Nowitzki one-on-one, but now, the Kings coach ordered his smaller but quicker player Hedo Turkoglu to cover the German. Turkoglu should use his agility to play Nowitzki tightly, and if the taller Maverick tried to post up Turkoglu, Webber would double team Nowitzki.[43] In Game 3 in Dallas, the Mavericks lost, 125–119; Nowitzki scored only 19 points and said: "I simply could not pass Turkoglu, and if I did, I ran into a double team and committed too many turnovers."[43] In Game 4, more frustration awaited the German: the Mavericks gave away a 14-point lead, although the entire Kings starting frontcourt of center Vlade Divac and power forward Chris Webber (both fouled out) and small forward Peja Stojakovic (injury) were eliminated in the closing stages of the game. Nowitzki missed two potentially game deciding jump shots, and the Mavericks lost, 115–113, at home. In Game 5, the demoralised Texans were no match for the spirited Kings, lost, 114–101, and were eliminated again.[44] Among others, remarked that the Kings defended better than the Mavericks:[45] in those five games, the statisticians counted 115 Sacramento layups against the Mavericks, meaning the Kings averaged 23 uncontested baskets (i.e., 46 easy points) per game.[46] However, Nowitzki received a consolation award: the Gazzetta dello Sport voted him as "European Basketballer of the Year," his 104 votes lifting him over second-placed Dejan Bodiroga (54) and Stojakovic (50).[47]

2002–03 season

Before the 2002–03 NBA season, Don Nelson and Mark Cuban put more emphasis on defense in the training drills, specialising in a zone defense anchored by prolific shotblockers Raef LaFrentz and Shawn Bradley. The Mavericks won their first 11 games, and Finley, Nash and Nowitzki were voted "Western Conference Players of the Month" in November 2002.[48] In that season, Nowitzki lifted his averages again, now scoring 25.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.[29] In addition, the German had 41 double-double games, the seventh highest figure that season. By averaging 25.1, he became the first European to score 2,000 points in a season.[3] As a reward, he was voted into the All-Star Game and the All-NBA Second Team again,[29] and was also runner-up in the "German Athlete of the Year" election, only losing to ski jumper Sven Hannawald.[49] He led the Mavericks to a franchise-high 60–22 record, which earned them the third seed: as a result, the Mavericks had to play sixth seed Portland Trail Blazers in the 2003 NBA Playoffs.[50] Now playing in a best-of-seven series instead of the former best-of-five, the Mavs quickly won the first 3 games, but then completely lost their rhythm and the next 3. In Game 7, Portland held the game close, but Nowitzki hit a clutch 3 to make it 100–94 with 1:21 left and the Mavs won 107–95. "This was the most important basket of my career," he later said, "I was not prepared to go on vacation that early."[51] He later added in an ESPN interview: "We had to be more physical in the paint and rebound the ball. We worked hard all season to get the home-court advantage and we used that advantage today."[52]

In the next round, the Mavericks met the Kings again. After losing Game 1 at home 124–113, Nowitzki (25 points) and veteran sixth man Van Exel (36) led Dallas to a spectacular 132–110 Game 2 win in which the Mavericks scored 83 points in the first half.[51] Helped by the fact that Kings star forward Chris Webber injured his meniscus, Nowitzki and Van Exel led the Mavericks to a 141–137 OT win in Game 3, before dropping Game 4 99–83, where Nowitzki only scored 11 points and was ejected after angrily kicking over a load of towels.[51] After splitting the next two games, Nowitzki delivered a clutch performance in Game 7, scoring 30 points, grabbing 19 rebounds and playing strong defense, and led the Mavericks to a series-deciding 112–99 win.[51] ESPN lauded Nowitzki as "Big D," and after again winning a Game 7, the German added: "We've really learned how to close games out."[53]

In the Western Conference Finals, the Mavericks met the Spurs again. In Game 1 in San Antonio, Nowitzki scored 38 points on Duncan and led his team to a 113–110 win. In Game 2, Duncan quickly put Nowitzki in foul trouble, and the Spurs equalised the series with a 132–110 win. In Game 3, Nowitzki went up for a rebound and Spurs guard Manu Ginóbili collided with his knee, forcing him out of the series: without their top scorer, the Mavericks still fought valiantly and trailed, 3–2, before Spurs guard Steve Kerr got hot from beyond the arc late in Game 6 to help San Antonio clinch the series with a 90–78 victory.[54] Don Nelson later commented: "We were playing so well for so long and the bottom just dropped out...We went cold at the wrong time."[55] Nowitzki took very little consolation in the fact that he again was voted "European Basketballer of the Year"[54] and was named "Best European Basketballer" in a general survey of the NBA general managers.[3]

2003–04 season

In the 2003–04 NBA season, Cuban and Nelson decided to add more offensive wing players to their squad. As a result, the Mavericks acquired two All-Star forwards, namely Golden State Warriors All-Star forward Antawn Jamison (along with Danny FortsonJiri Welsch and Chris Mills, for Van Exel and role players) and Antoine Walker (Boston Celtics) who came for center Raef LaFrentz. Basketball experts were wary about the latter trade, because it sent away the Mavericks starting center; they argued it left a hole in the middle that the aging, injury-prone backup pivot Shawn Bradley could not fill anymore.[56] Unable to trade for a new center, Nelson decided to start the prolific rebounder Nowitzki at pivot, put Walker on Nowitzki's usual power forward spot and played Jamison as a high-scoring sixth man.[57] To cope with his more physical role, Nowitzki put on 20 lb (9.1 kg) of muscle mass over summer, sacrificed part of his agility, and put more emphasis on defense rather than scoring:[58] as a result, his averages fell for the first time in his career, dropping to 21.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game,[29] but he still led the Mavericks in scoring, rebounding, steals (1.2 spg) and blocks (1.35 bpg).[3] These figures earned him nominations for the All-Star Game and the All-NBA Third Team.[29] Compiling a 52–30 record, the Mavericks met their familiar rivals Sacramento Kings again, but were eliminated in 5.

Franchise player (2004–present)Edit

2004–05 season

Before the 2004–05 NBA season, the Mavericks were re-tooled again. Defensive center Erick Dampier was acquired from the Golden State Warriors, but Nowitzki's close friend Steve Nash left Dallas and returned to the Phoenix Suns as a free agent. During the season, long-time head coach Don Nelson resigned, and his assistant Avery Johnson took on coaching duties. In the midst of these changes, Nowitzki stepped up his game and averaged 26.1 points a game (a career-high) and 9.7 rebounds, and his 1.5 blocks and 3.1 assists were also career numbers.[29] In addition, Nowitzki scored at least 10 points in every game and was one of four players who registered at least 1.2 steals and blocks per game. This was also his second 2,000-point season; his 26.1 points scoring average set a new record by a European player.[3] On December 2, 2004, Nowitzki scored 53 points in an overtime win against the Houston Rockets, a career best.[3] As a reward, Nowitzki was voted to the All-NBA First Team for the first time.[29] He also placed third in the league's MVP voting, behind Nash and Shaquille O'Neal. By being elected to the All-NBA First Team, Nowitzki became the first player who did not attend a United States high school or college to be on the All-NBA First Team.

However, the Mavericks had a subpar 2005 NBA Playoffs campaign. In the first round, Dallas met the Houston Rockets of scoring champion Tracy McGrady and 7–6 center Yao Ming, and Nowitzki was expected to average high figures against unheralded forward Ryan Bowen: described Bowen as "overmatched" versus the German.[60] Instead, Bowen limited Nowitzki to just 21 points in Game 1[60] and 26 points in Game 2, where the latter hit 8 of 26 shots from the field.[61] The Rockets took a 2–0 series lead before the Mavericks won three games in a row. After losing Game 6, Dallas won Game 7 convincingly and won the series even though Nowitzki struggled with his shooting.[62] In the Western Conference Semifinals, the Mavericks met the Phoenix Suns, the new club of Nash. They split the first four games, before the Suns won the last two games. In Game 6, which the Mavericks lost in overtime, Nowitzki was again not at his best: he scored 28 points, but also sank only 9 of his 25 field goal attempts;[63] in addition, he was visibly irritated, repeatedly shouting at his teammates and missing all five of his shots in OT.[64]

2005–06 season

Prior to the 2005–06 NBA season, veteran Mavericks captain Michael Finley was waived over the summer, and now Nowitzki was the last player remaining from the Mavericks' "Big Three" of Nash, Finley, and himself. Nowitzki blossomed as the sole franchise player, averaging 26.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. Not only was this his third 2,000-point season, but his scoring average of 26.6 points was highest ever by a European.[29] He improved his shooting percentage, setting personal season records in field goals (48.0%), three-point shots (40.6%) and free throws (90.1%).[29] During the 2006 All-Star Weekend in Houston, Nowitzki scored 18 points to defeat Seattle SuperSonicsguard Ray Allen and Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas in the Three-Point Shootout contest.[65]

Nowitzki paced Dallas to a 60-win season. The team finished with the third-best record in the league, behind the defending champion San Antonio Spurs and defending Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons.[66] As in the 2004–05 season, he finished third in the league's MVP voting, this time behind Nash and LeBron James. He was again elected to the first team All-NBA squad.[29] Nowitzki confirmed his superstar status during the playoffs as he averaged 27.0 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists.[29] The Mavericks swept the Memphis Grizzlies, 4–0, with Nowitzki's most spectacular play[according to whom?] being a clutch three-pointer in the closing seconds of Game 3 which tied the game and forced overtime. In the Western Conference Semifinals, the Mavericks played against the San Antonio Spurs again. After splitting the first six games, the Mavericks took a 20-point lead in Game 7 before Spur Manu Ginóbili broke a tie at 101 by hitting a 3 with 30 seconds left. On the next play, Nowitzki completed a three-point play, which tied the game at 104. In the end, the Mavericks won, 119–111, and Nowitzki ended the game with 37 points and 15 rebounds.[67] Nowitzki commented: "I don't know how the ball went in. Manu hit my hand. It was a lucky bounce."[67]

The Mavericks advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they again met the Suns. Nowitzki scored 50 points to lead the Mavericks to a victory in the crucial Game 5 with the series tied at 2; the Mavericks would go on to win in six games and face the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals. A content Nowitzki commented: "We've been a good road team all season long, we believed in each other. We went through some ups and downs this season, but the playoffs are all about showing heart and playing together."[68] Of Nowitzki's performance, ESPN columnist Bill Simmons would remark, "Dirk is playing at a higher level than any forward since Bird."[69] The Mavericks took an early 2–0 lead, but then gave away a late 15-point lead in a Game 3 loss[70] and finally fell to a scoring onslaught by Heat Finals MVP Dwyane Wade: Wade scored at least 36 points in the next four games, all of which the Heat won. Nowitzki only made 20 of his last 55 shots in the final three games as the Mavericks lost the Finals series, 4–2, to the Heat. The German was criticized by ESPN as "clearly ... not as his best this series" and remarked: "That was a tough loss (in Game 3) and that really changed the whole momentum of the series. ... After that, they got confidence. They played a lot better afterwards."[71]

2006–07 MVP season

The 2006–07 season was the year Nowitzki was named the league's Most Valuable Player. He shot a career-best 50.2% from the field, and recorded averages of 24.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists[29] and led the Mavericks to a franchise-high 67 wins, which meant Dallas earned the first seed of the 2007 NBA Playoffs.[72] He averaged 50% from the field, 40% for three pointers, and 90% from the free throw line becoming, at the time, only the fourth player in NBA history to join the 50–40–90 club. Nowitzki was touted as the overwhelming favorite for the Most Valuable Player award, and was expected to lead the Mavericks to an easy win against the eighth-seed Golden State Warriors, despite the Warriors having won all three regular-season meetings against Dallas. However, the Mavericks ended up losing to the Warriors in six games, marking the first time a #8 seed had beaten the #1 in a best-of-seven series in NBA history.[73]In the clinching Game 6, Nowitzki shot just 2–13 from the field for only eight points.[73] Defended by Stephen Jackson, Nowitzki averaged nearly five points less than his regular-season average in that series and shot 38.3% from the field as compared to 50.2% during the regular season.[29] He described that loss as a low point in his career: "This series, I couldn't put my stamp on it the way I wanted to. That's why I'm very disappointed."[74] In spite of this historic playoffs loss, Nowitzki was named the NBA's regular-season Most Valuable Player and beat his friend and back-to-back NBA MVP Nash with more than 100 votes. He also became the first European player in NBA history to receive the honor.[75]

2007–08 season

The 2007–08 campaign saw another first-round playoffs exit for Nowitzki and his Mavericks. Despite a mid-season trade that sent veteran NBA All-Star Jason Kidd to Dallas, the Mavericks finished seventh in a highly competitive Western Conference. Nowitzki averaged 23.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and a career-high 3.5 assists for the season.[76] In the playoffs, they faced rising star Chris Paul's New Orleans Hornets, and were eliminated in five games.[76] The playoff loss led to the firing of Avery Johnson as head coach and the eventual hiring of Rick Carlisle. The few positive highlights that season for Nowitzki were his first career triple-double against the Milwaukee Bucks on February 6, 2008, with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and a career-high 12 assists, and on March 8, 2008 (34 points against the New Jersey Nets), when he surpassed Rolando Blackman with his 16,644th point to become the Mavericks' all-time career points leader.[77]

2008–09 season

The 2008–09 NBA season saw Nowitzki finish with averages of 25.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. He was fourth in the league in scoring, and garnered his fourth All-NBA First Team selection. He also made the 2009 All-Star game, his eighth appearance. Nowitzki led Dallas to a tight finish towards the playoffs, finishing 50–32 for the season (6th in the West), after a slow 2–7 start. In the playoffs, the German led Dallas to an upset win over long-time rival San Antonio (the third seed), winning the first-round series, 4–1. The Mavericks, however, fell short against the Denver Nuggets, 4–1, in the second round, with Nowitzki averaging 34.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 4 assists in the series.

2009–10 season

The Mavericks finished the 2009–10 NBA season as the second seed for the 2010 NBA Playoffs—it was their 10th consecutive season with at least 50 regular season wins. Notable additions to the squad were multiple All-Stars Shawn Marion and Caron Butler, with the latter coming in the latter half of the season. On January 13, 2010, Nowitzki became the 34th player in NBA history—and the first European—to hit the 20,000-point milestone, while ending the regular season with averages of 25 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1 block. He was selected to the 2010 All-Star Game, his ninth appearance. The Mavericks faced off against San Antonio once more in the first round of the playoffs, but for the third time in four seasons, they failed to progress to the next round. Nowitzki was the only consistent player throughout the series for the Mavericks, averaging 26.7 points per outing, while Jason Terry, second-leading scorer for the Mavericks, averaged 12.7 points per game compared to his 16.6 regular season. Despite being a free agent, on July 5, 2010, Nowitzki agreed to remain with Dallas by re-signing to a four-year, $80 million deal.[78]

2010–11 championship season

The most significant change to the 2010–11 team roster was the arrival of Tyson Chandler via trade. Nowitzki was injured in the middle of the season, during which the Mavericks would record their worst losing streak in over a decade. Nowitzki finished the regular season with averages of 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Despite missing 9 games, Nowitzki was selected to the 2011 All-Star Game, his tenth appearance. The Mavericks concluded the regular season with 57 wins, seeding third behind the Spurs and Lakers for the 2011 NBA Playoffs. During the playoffs, despite their seeding, many predicted that Dallas would lose in the first round to Portland, and after blowing a 23-point fourth-quarter lead in Game 4 to even the series at 2–2, the Mavericks appeared ready for another postseason collapse.[79][80][81] However, Dallas won the final two games to advance. They then swept the two-time defending champion Lakers in the semifinals in Phil Jackson's final year as an NBA coach. In the Conference Finals, they faced the Oklahoma City Thunder and their All-NBA duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In Game 1, Nowitzki scored 48 points while shooting 12/15 from the field while setting an NBA record of 24 consecutive free throws made in a game as well as most free throws in a game without a miss. In Game 4, with Dallas up, 2–1, Nowitzki scored 40 points to rally his team from a 99–84 deficit in the fourth quarter with 5 minutes left and eventually win, 112–105, in OT to take a 3–1 series lead. Dallas overcame another fourth-quarter deficit in Game 5 to win the Western Conference Title. In the 2011 NBA Finals, Dallas once again faced the Heat, which had acquired All-Stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh before the season began. During the Game 1 loss in Miami, he tore a tendon in his left middle finger; however, MRIs were negative, and Nowitzki vowed that the injury would not be a factor. In Game 2, he led a Dallas rally from an 88–73 fourth-quarter deficit, capped by a driving left-handed layup over Bosh to tie the series at 1. Miami took a 2–1 series lead after Nowitzki missed a potential game-tying shot at the end of Game 3. Despite carrying a 101°F fever in Game 4, he hit the winning basket to tie the series yet again at 2, evoking comparisons to Michael Jordan's "Flu Game" against Utah in the 1997 NBA Finals. Dallas went on to win the next two games, with Nowitzki scoring 10 fourth-quarter points in the series-clinching game in Miami, bringing the first championship to the franchise.[82] In the series, Nowitzki scored 62 points total in the six fourth quarters, equaling the combined fourth-quarter output of James and Wade. He was named Finals MVP, joining a list of 10 other players to have been an NBA champion, NBA Finals MVP, an NBA regular season MVP, and a ten-time All-Star. For the 2011 playoffs, Nowitzki averaged 27.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 21 games.

2011–12 season

As Dallas celebrated their title, the NBA was in a lockout. It ended on December 8, 2011. The defending champions lost core players, such as DeShawn StevensonJ.J. BareaPeja Stojakovic, and Tyson Chandler, while adding veteran all-star Vince CarterLamar Odom, and Delonte West in free agency. The Mavericks played only two preseason games, which led to a slow start for Nowitzki. Soon, Nowitzki became the 98th player in NBA history to play in 1,000 games. Nowitzki received his championship ring on January 25, 2012. After scoring his 23,335th point, Nowitzki passed Robert Parish on the all-time scoring list at #20. He then passed Charles Barkley for 19th, and scored his 24,000th point on April 15, 2012 against the Lakers. Nowitzki blocked a shot by the Celtics' Avery Bradley, which was his 1,000th block. He became one of only 3 players in NBA history with at least 1,000 3-pointers and blocks, joining Clifford Robinson and Rasheed Wallace. Nowitzki made his 11th straight All-Star game appearance in Orlando. Dirk scored 31 points in the second half against Houston on April 18, 2012, including 21 in the fourth quarter. It marked the third-highest scoring half by a Dallas player in franchise history. The 21 points in the fourth quarter also represented Nowitzki's third-highest scoring quarter of his career. Carrying the load of the Mavericks, Nowitzki led his team in scoring 45 times. On March 30, he led the Mavs down from 15 points, including a game winner, against the Magic. Nowitzki's streak of 11 seasons with 1,500 points came to an end after scoring 1,342 in the shortened NBA season. The Mavs clinched the seventh spot in the West, and were matched against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. The Thunder swept the Mavs in 4 games.

2012–13 season

After failing to sign coveted free agents Deron Williams and Steve Nash, the Mavericks retooled their roster by letting go of Jason KiddJason Terry and Brendan Haywood, and acquiring younger players such as O. J. MayoDarren Collison, as well as veteran big men Chris Kaman and Elton Brand. Nowitzki plans to play out the remainder of his 4 year, 80 million dollar contract that expires in 2014.[83] Nowitzki underwent knee surgery in October 2012 and missed the first 27 games of the season.[84] He returned on December 23, 2012, in a game against San Antonio.[85]

In January 2013, Nowizki and some of his teammates (including Mayo, Brand, Kaman, Carter and then teammate Dahntay Jones) made a pact not to shave their beards until the team reached .500. They were often called "The Beard Bros."[86][87] On April 14, 2013, after a fade away jumper in a game against the New Orleans Hornets, Nowitzki became the 17th player in NBA history to score 25,000 points. The Mavs went on to win the game, climbing back up to .500 with a 40–40 win-loss record. Dirk was able to shave his beard.[88] However the Mavericks missed the playoffs for the first time since Nowitzki's second season, ending their 12-year playoff streak.

2013–14 season

On November 12, 2013, in a 105-95 victory over the Washington Wizards, Nowitzki finished the game with 19 points and passed Jerry West on the NBA scoring list with 25,197 points. On November 20, 2013, in a 123-120 victory over theHouston Rockets, Nowitzki finished the game with 35 points and passed Reggie Miller on the NBA scoring list with 25,298 points. On December 23, 2013, in a 111-104 victory over the Houston Rockets, Nowitzki finished the game with 31 points and passed Alex English on the NBA scoring list with 25,631 points.[89]

On January 29, 2014, Nowitzki scored his 26,000 point in a 115-117 loss to the Houston Rockets. In 35 minutes of play, he recorded 38 points, 17 rebounds and 3 assists.[90] On March 12, 2014, in a 108-101 victory over the Utah Jazz, Nowitzki finished the game with 31 points and passed John Havlicek on the NBA scoring list with 26,426 points.

Career statisticsEdit

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game Bold Career high
Denotes seasons in which Nowitzki won an NBA championship

NBA statistics[edit]Edit

(Correct as of April 17, 2013)[29]

Regular season[edit]Edit

1998–99 Dallas 47 24 20.4 .405 .206 .773 3.4 1.0 .6 .6 8.2
1999–00 Dallas 82 81 35.8 .461 .379 .830 6.5 2.5 .8 .8 17.5
2000–01 Dallas 82 82 38.1 .474 .387 .838 9.2 2.1 1.0 1.2 21.8
2001–02 Dallas 76 76 38.0 .477 .397 .853 9.9 2.4 1.1 1.0 23.4
2002–03 Dallas 80 80 39.0 .463 .379 .881 9.9 3.0 1.4 1.0 25.1
2003–04 Dallas 77 77 37.9 .462 .341 .877 8.7 2.7 1.2 1.4 21.8
2004–05 Dallas 78 78 38.7 .459 .399 .869 9.7 3.1 1.2 1.5 26.1
2005–06 Dallas 81 81 38.1 .480 .406 .901 9.0 2.8 .7 1.0 26.6
2006–07 Dallas 78 78 36.2 .502 .416 .904 8.9 3.4 .7 .8 24.6
2007–08 Dallas 77 77 36.0 .479 .359 .879 8.6 3.5 .7 .9 23.6
2008–09 Dallas 81 81 37.7 .479 .359 .890 8.4 2.4 .8 .8 25.9
2009–10 Dallas 81 80 37.5 .481 .421 .915 7.7 2.7 .9 1.0 25.0
2010–11Dallas 73 73 34.3 .517 .393 .892 7.0 2.6 .5 .6 23.0
2011–12 Dallas 62 62 33.5 .457 .368 .896 6.8 2.2 .7 .5 21.6
2012–13 Dallas 53 47 31.3 .471 .414 .860 6.8 2.5 .7 .7 17.3
Career 1,108 1,077 36.1 .475 .381 .877 8.2 2.6 .9 .9 22.6
All-Star 12 2 17.5 .436 .207 .875 3.9 1.3 .7 .4 9.0


2001 Dallas 10 10 39.9 .423 .283 .883 8.1 1.4 1.1 .8 23.4
2002 Dallas 8 8 44.6 .445 .571 .878 13.1 2.3 2.0 .8 28.4
2003 Dallas 17 17 42.5 .479 .443 .912 11.5 2.2 1.2 .9 25.3
2004 Dallas 5 5 42.4 .450 .467 .857 11.8 1.4 1.4 2.6 26.6
2005 Dallas 13 13 42.4 .402 .333 .829 10.1 3.3 1.4 1.6 23.7
2006 Dallas 23 23 42.7 .468 .343 .895 11.7 2.9 1.1 .6 27.0
2007 Dallas 6 6 39.8 .383 .211 .840 11.3 2.3 1.8 1.3 19.7
2008 Dallas 5 5 42.2 .473 .333 .808 12.0 4.0 .2 1.4 26.8
2009 Dallas 10 10 39.5 .518 .286 .925 10.1 3.1 .9 .8 26.8
2010 Dallas 6 6 38.8 .547 .571 .952 8.2 3.0 .8 .7 26.7
2011Dallas 21 21 39.3 .485 .460 .941 8.1 2.5 .6 .6 27.7
2012 Dallas 4 4 38.5 .442 .167 .905 6.3 1.8 .8 .0 26.8
Career 128 128 41.2 .463 .380 .893 10.3 2.6 1.1 .9 25.9


2006 Dallas 6 6 43.7 .390 .250 .891 10.8 2.5 .7 .7 22.8
2011Dallas 6 6 40.3 .416 .368 .978 9.7 2.0 .7 .7 26.0
Career 12 12 42.0 .404 .310 .931 10.3 2.3 .7 .7 24.4

International statistics[edit]Edit

Year Competition GP MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1997 EuroBasket qualification 1 3.0 .000 .000 .000 .0 .0 .0 .0 .0
1999 EuroBasket qualification 3 16.7 .600 .750 1.000 4.0 .3 .3 .0 13.7
1999 EuroBasket 9 31.3 .582 .529 .771 3.4 1.8 .9 .0 15.2
2001 EuroBasket 7 33.9 .516 .426 .714 9.1 1.9 1.3 1.0 28.7
2002 World Championship 9 31.2 .407 .286 .921 8.2 2.7 1.2 2.0 24.0
2003 EuroBasket 4 34.8 .453 .455 .841 6.2 1.0 1.3 1.8 22.5
2005 EuroBasket qualification 5 32.4 .500 .364 .809 11.6 2.2 1.8 .8 23.6
2005 EuroBasket 7 36.9 .411 .371 .885 10.6 1.7 1.1 1.9 26.1
2006 World Championship 9 33.6 .434 .286 .823 9.2 2.8 1.0 .6 23.2
2007 EuroBasket 9 33.9 .432 .313 .860 8.7 1.6 .9 .9 24.0
2008 Olympic Games qualification 5 31.2 .500 .435 .922 8.2 2.6 .2 1.0 26.6
2008 Olympic Games 5 28.4 .419 .417 .958 8.4 .6 .2 .0 17.0
2011 EuroBasket 8 29.9 .442 .421 .933 6.6 1.4 .4 .4 19.5
Career 81 31.6 .457 .382 .855 7.1 1.8 .9 .9 22.0