The legendary German speaks: “Kobe the strongest I’ve faced. As a kid, I cheered for Jordan and the Bulls. Dallas, the 2011 title is unforgettable “
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They call him a legend, even if he still doesn’t realize it. “I’ve never really seen myself as a legend” says Dirk Nowitzki, for 20 years a symbol of Dallas and now a symbol of the cover dedicated to the legends of the most famous video game in the world, Nba2k, which in the 2022 edition puts him next to Kareem Abdul- Jabbar and Kevin Durant. “Obviously I’d rather be on the court than on the cover of a video game, but it’s nice to see people respect what I did for the NBA and what I tried to do for all of basketball.”
He says he would still like to be on the pitch: how would he be in today’s NBA?
“I think my game would be perfect for today’s NBA. The big players must know how to widen the field, on the court there are always at least 4 shooters, if not 5. It would be fun for me to play now. Even though I’ve been doing it for twenty years, so I can’t complain ”.
The 2011 title remains the high point of his legendary career: what made those Mavs special?
“We had a great understanding. We had veterans who had been successful elsewhere and who came together with the idea of winning, putting their egos aside for the good of the team. We had great players, great people. And then we hit our peak at the decisive moment, in the playoffs, turning that ride into something magical for us and the entire city of Dallas. I find it incredible that 10 years have already passed, but I will never forget the magic of that team, the pride in bringing the first title in its history to Dallas ”.
Who are his legends?
“I’m a huge Kobe fan and when what happened to him happened I was devastated. I’ve always considered him the best I’ve ever faced. But as a kid, I was a huge Chicago Bulls fan. Today, of course, only the Dallas Mavericks exist for me, but I was a huge fan of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen back then. And then about Rodman, Kukoc and all that group ”.
And in Europe?
“I loved Detlef Schrempf, Drazen Petrovic, Kukoc and Arvydas Sabonis. And then Pau Gasol, with whom we practically played together. As a student of the game, I have always appreciated Oscar Schmidt: he has never played in the NBA, true, but he has had an extraordinary career ”.
Favorite player today?
“Luka Doncic, of course. It’s special, watching it always excites you. I also think why not even he knows exactly what he will do in the next play. I’ve seen him do incredible things, I think he has a special talent for making things on the pitch unforgettable. And I love Kevin Durant. 213 centimeters, he knows how to shoot in every way, from every position. When he is well he is simply fantastic ”.
Speaking of Luka: does he have the potential to be the best Mavs ever, even better than her?
“Sure. He is only 22 years old, he already plays at an incredible level. He has been an MVP candidate for the past two seasons, has already made it into the best NBA quintets and has a very long career ahead of him. He is an incredible player, already complete: it is scary what he can do at his age. I hope he stays in Dallas for the rest of his career, that he becomes a mvp and that he can bring another title to the Mavs ”.
Speaking of Dallas: it stayed there for 20 years. Did he expect it?
“Obviously at first I didn’t know what to expect. I grew up in Germany, I would never have said that I would get where I am. In Dallas I found fans and a team who helped me, gave me confidence and always stood by me. Then came Mark Cuban, who bought the team: we became friends, he was close to me in good times and also in bad times. I never really thought about leaving, leaving a city that had adopted me, a team where I had so many friends. I stayed with the goal of winning a title, and we did it “
He was among those who paved the way from Europe to the NBA: do you think this transition is easier today?
“Yup. The game is no longer physical as it used to be, and European players, who know how to do more things, have a great time in the NBA. It has been great to see how the game has become so much more global in the 20 years I’ve been with the NBA. I think the league is in very good hands, with many young stars ready to take up the baton. Even European stars, such as Luka, Giannis, Jokic and many others ”.
Speaking of global basketball, the Olympic tournament is on its way: how do you see it?
“I consider the US favorites, as always. They have the best players, the best athletes. Of course, this year the Olympics will be a bit different, with the audience missing: let’s see if this will change the gold rush ”.
Medal already decided, then?
“No, you always have to play tournaments to win them. And then basketball has become more and more global, with so many great teams around the world and so many highly talented players. I think the US is favorites, but I’m curious to see the others. I hope we will have fun at the Olympics ”.
July 14, 2021 (change July 14, 2021 | 17:02)
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