With a list of awards and achievements that are as long as the River Nile, Dirk Nowitzki is arguably the greatest basketballer out of Germany and one of the best players that have graced the National Basketball Association. He is often referred to as one of the greatest power forwards of all time and personally, he is my favourite basketballer out of Europe; probably because I grew up watching him making outrageous dunks and impossible shots over and over again.
Dirk Nowitzki plays for the Dallas Mavericks, which he has been playing for since 1998 (over 20 seasons), making him the second player to stay in one basketball team for that long, further emphasizing his loyalty. His exploits for the Mavericks as well as the German National Basketball team has led to prominent German Journalists writing books about him.
His Early Years
Although Nowitzki is now an amazing NBA superstar, he actually started out playing an utterly unrelated sport to basketball – tennis. He also dabbled in handball, most likely because of his father’s influence. However, like the late Myles Monroe would aptly put it “when the purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable”. Dirk Nowitzki had to deal with being ostracized and picked on by his peers because of his height, he stood heads and shoulders above all of them and they, being probably intimidated, began to call him a freak.
Nevertheless, this was a blessing in disguise as his rejection by his peers in tennis and handball redirected him to basketball which in hindsight was the sport he was always destined to play. He joined his local basketball club, DJK Würzburg and his raw untapped talent was quickly noticed by ex-German international basketballer Holger Geschwindner.
Holger Geschwindner took it upon himself to train Dirk Nowitzki, initially; 2 to 3 times a week but would go on to train Nowitzki every day of the week when he observed that the 15-year-old had the potential to make it big at the world stage. Nowitzki has been quoted, referring to Holger Geschwindner as his mentor/best friend and owes much of his career success to him.
Dirk Nowitzki made the DJK Würzburg squad in 1994 at the age of 16 and after turning down an opportunity to play basketball in Spain in 1996 with FC Barcelona Bàsquet because he wanted to complete his Abitur, he eventually joined the Dallas Mavericks in 1998. Life as a basketball player wasn’t always a breeze neither was it a bed of roses for Dirk Nowitzki. While he was at DJK Würzburg, he struggled with his grades and form because he was played out of position by his coach Pit Stahl.
Nowitzki also had a bad start to his basketball career at Dallas and was even nicknamed ‘Irk Nowitzki’ without the D in his name for his poor defensive stats. However, he rose above all his obstacles to go on to become the highest scoring foreign-born player in the NBA.
Dirk Nowitzki Achievements
The following are some of Dirk Nowitzki’s incredible haul of achievements in the NBA: He was the NBA Most Valuable Player in 2007 and the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 2011. Dirk Nowitzki is a 13-time NBA All-Star: 2002–2012, 2014–2015. He also won the NBA three-point Shootout competition in 2006, NBA Shooting Stars competition in 2010 and in 2017, he was voted NBA Teammate of the Year.
Dirk Nowitzki is currently ranked 6th in all-time scoring, 7th in all-time defensive rebounds and 2nd in all-time NBA Finals free throw percentage. He has the third all-time longest streak for consecutive free throws with a total of 82 consecutive free throws in the regular season. With an impressive 26 consecutive free throws, he has the record for the all-time longest consecutive free throws made in the NBA Finals.
Nowitzki has at least 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, 1,000 steals and 1,000 blocks, making him one of the only 3 players in the history of NBA with this achievement. He is also one of the two players with 150 three-pointers and 100 blocks in a single season, achieving this feat in the 2001 regular season.
Dirk Nowitzki is also one of three players to surpass the mark of 1,000 points in both three-pointers and blocks in the history of the NBA. With 205 free-throws made in 2006 alone, Nowitzki holds the record for most free-throws made in a single playoff season. Nowitzki is a Dallas Mavericks living legend, breaking and holding the records in the highest number of games, points, rebounds, three-point field goals and free throws in the history of the Dallas Mavericks.
With the German national basketball team, Dirk won the EuroBasket in 2001, bronze medal at the 2002 FIBA World Championship in which he was the top scorer of the tournament and also made the team of the tournament. The baller would go on to win a silver medal at the 2005 EuroBasket. In this tournament, he was the MVP, top scorer and made the team of the tournament.
Nowitzki is the second leading scorer with an impressive point tally of 1052 in the history of EuroBasket and with 3045 points in 153 international games, he is the leading scorer in the history of the German national basketball. He has also won the German Sports Personality of the Year Award (2011), Naismith Legacy Award (2012), and Magic Johnson Award (2014).
Family, Wife, Kids, Ex-wife, Divorce
Dirk Nowitzki was born into a sports family on the 19th of June 1978 in Würzburg, West Germany. His father Jörg-Werner Nowitzki was a professional handball player while his mother Helga Nowitzki was a professional basketball player. Helga and Jörg-Werner Nowitzki also have a daughter named Silke Nowitzki who started out as a track and field athlete but eventually took to basketball and is currently a presenter on the NBA’s International TV.
Dirk Nowitzki is married to Swedish-Kenyan beauty, Jessica Olsson; who happens to be the only sister to professional footballers Marcus and Martin Olsson. The couple got married on the 20th of July 2012 in a Kenyan traditional wedding at Dirk’s house in Dallas after dating for about 2 years. Dirk and Jessica have 3 kids together, a daughter born in July 2013 named Malaika and two sons named Max and Morris born in March 2015 and November 2016 respectively.
Prior to his marriage to Jessica, Nowitzki was in a relationship with Sybille Gerer who was a female basketball player at his local boyhood club DJK Würzburg. Their relationship began in 1992. Nowitzki and Sybille dated for about a decade but they, however, decided to go their separate ways because Sybille wanted a more serious commitment as well as a family and Nowitzki at that point in his life, wasn’t ready for that. They separated amicably and are still friends to date.
Dirk Nowitzki’s basketball talent has earned him several contracts worth millions of dollars, placing his estimated net worth at an overwhelmingly huge sum of 170 million USD. This makes him one of the richest basketballers alive.
His current contract places his salary at about 25.9 million USD and runs till the 2018/2019 NBA season. It was recently revealed that Dirk Nowitzki has sacrificed as much 194 million USD in discount contracts for the Dallas Mavericks, showcasing his lack of greed and genuine love for the club.
Dirk is also a philanthropist and uses his wealth to affect lives positively in Africa through his foundation named Dirk Nowitzki Foundation whose aim is to help eradicate poverty from impoverished African countries. He is humble, generous, a fantastic friend (according to his best buddy fellow NBA star, Steve Nash) and hasn’t let his wealth, as well as fame, get to his head.
Height, How Tall Is The Fantastic Baller?
Nowitzki is 7 feet tall (2.13m), making him one of the tallest players in the NBA and also contributing to his sporting ability.