Does life ever get old in Dallas?
On February 5, 1999, the NBA career of one of the greatest German athletes of all time begins. Dirk Nowitzki makes his debut for the Dallas Mavericks against Detlef Schrempf and the Seattle SuperSonics.
Although he only scores two points, the first season is anything but smooth, but subsequently he will leave monumental footsteps in the best basketball league in the world.
Germany's basketball superstar Dirk Nowitzki is now 40 years old. Nevertheless, the Würzburger has not had enough and is playing his 21st NBA season with the Dallas Mavericks. SPORT1 looks back on the career of the exceptional athlete.
In the 1998 NBA draft, Nowitzki was pulled in ninth place by the Milwaukee Bucks. However, they then pass it on to the Mavericks. The Bucks get Robert Traylor, who was previously drafted by Dallas in 6th place. Traylor played 438 games in the NBA for Milwaukee, Cleveland, Charlotte and New Orleans. He died in Puerto Rico in 2011 at the age of 34.
With Nowitzki things should look better in Dallas. The so far rather unsuccessful club won a maximum of 36 games per season in the previous eight years. Next to Nowitzki, Don Nelson's hopes rest on Steve Nash. The Texans also sign the Point Guard from the Phoenix Suns in 1998. The Mavericks' upswing begins with the duo. In their second full season together, Dallas moves into the playoffs.
2002: First all-star game
Nowitzki played his first All-Star Game in Philadelphia in 2002. The teammates of the West selection at the time are Steve Nash, Peja Stojakovic, Wally Szczerbiak, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Elton Brand, Tim Duncan, Gary Payton and Steve Francis.
The following year he will also be there again. There he also meets basketball superstar Michael Jordan. It is the last all-star game from "His Airness".
In 2006, Nowitzki was also represented at the game of the best between West and East. That year, the Detroit Pistons sent four players to Houston, breaking the 1998 Los Angeles Lakers record. With Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant Nowitzki is one of the long-term guests of the Western Conference at the All-Star Game.
2006: Final bankruptcy after leadership
That year Nowitzki experienced a great disappointment. In the finals, the Mavericks lose despite a 2-0 lead against the Miami Heat. The bitterest sporting experience for "Dirkules". In the end, Shaquille O'Neal (his fourth championship) and Finals MVP Dwyane Wade cheer.
In 2007 Nowitzki received the award for most valuable player in the NBA. This is the first time a Mavericks player has earned MVP honors. Mavs owner Mark Cuban is happy with his star player.
Nevertheless, the year ended disappointingly again. Despite the best record, the Mavericks fail in the first round of the playoffs to Baron Davis and the Golden State Warriors. For the first time, the number one seeding list is thrown out in the first round.
In 2008 he played his seventh All-Star Game in a row in New Orleans. The eighth will follow in Phoenix in 2009.
2008: Flag bearer at the 2008 Olympics
Before that, however, there is an emotional climax. Nowitzki qualifies with the national team for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and is even allowed to lead Team Germany into the Olympic Stadium as the flag bearer at the opening ceremony.
In terms of sport, things are not going according to plan, but Nowitzki describes the experience as one of the most beautiful of his career.
In 2009 Dirkules failed in the second playoff round to the Denver Nuggets and the bird of paradise Chris "Birdman" Anderson. Gradually the playoffs develop into the trauma of the Mavs.
In 2010, the San Antonio Spurs are already a size too big for Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Co. in the first round.
2011: Nowitzki wins title with Mavs
In 2011 the time has finally come! Nowitzki secures the title in the NBA with his Dallas Mavericks.
Especially in the semi-final series against the then still very green OKC Thunder around Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Nowitzki reached the best level of his career. With sheer will he carries the Mavs into the finals and there also to victory over the overpowering Miami Heat of LeBron James.
For Dirkules, a dream comes true - but reality quickly catches up with him.
After a mixed year in 2012, Nowitzki also had injuries in 2012/2013. The knee in particular always causes problems. In 2013, the Mavericks even missed the playoffs for the first time in twelve years. The upheaval after winning the title failed.
In private, however, things are going well: Nowitzki becomes a father for the first time in July 2013. "Having a family of my own has always been my big dream. That's why I'm really happy," says the man from Würzburg. The children Malaika, Max and Morris are his pride and joy.
2012: Wedding to Jessica Olsson
The Mavericks captain married Jessica Olsson in 2012 after a two-year relationship. He met the pretty Swede at a party. He once introduced her to his father as a tennis partner.
Nowitzki reached a special milestone on April 8, 2014. With 21 points in the game at the Utah Jazz, the exceptional player was among the top ten best NBA scorers of all time. "That's surreal," says Nowitzki.
A short time later, the Mavs qualify as eighth for the playoffs. There they are clear underdogs against the top seeded San Antonio Spurs around superstar Tim Duncan.
Nowitzki and the Mavs fight back as best they can and bring the Spurs to the edge of the knockout before they have to admit defeat in the seventh game of the series - after all against the eventual NBA champion.
2015: All-Star-Game and Playoffs
In the coming season Nowitzki will be appointed to the All-Star Team for the 13th time for the injured Anthony Davis. In seventh place, the Mavericks qualify again for the playoffs, but fail clearly in five games at the Houston Rockets.
Also in the next season Nowitzki has to be comforted after the first playoff round.
Dallas wants to attack next season, but will again miss out on the hottest free agents like Hassan Whiteside in the summer. It gets worse: Nowitzki is out for a long time due to an Achilles tendon injury at the beginning of the season. With their superstar in a suit instead of on the floor, the Mavs hardly win a game.
With the recovered Nowitzki, Dallas is back on the road to success, but the team still misses the playoffs. Despite this, there is reason to celebrate for the Würzburg.
2017: 30,000 points
On March 7, 2017, the then 38-year-old cracked the historic 30,000 mark against the Los Angeles Lakers with a furious 25 points in the first half as the sixth player in NBA history - as the first non-American.
Nowitzki will be 40 years old on June 19, 2018. With a deployment in mid-December 2018 in his 21st season with the Mavericks, he becomes the sole record holder. No player has been with just one team longer.
2019: Nowitzki overtakes Chamberlain
The next milestone will follow on March 18, 2019. Nowitzki overtakes the great Wilt Chamberlain in the scorer list of the professional basketball league NBA and conquers sixth place. Nowitzki overtook the legend in the 125: 129 defeat after extra time against the New Orleans Pelicans, which also meant the end of the race for a playoff place.
"It's always unbelievable when you catch up with one of these legends," says Nowitzki. "In his era, Wilt was the most dominant player the league has ever seen. No one else has scored 100 points. To be on a list of such names is surreal."
Icon, popular figure and world-class player: Nowitzki has outgrown almost all superlatives in over 20 years. Playful class, titles and records are only part of his legacy.
Nowitzki ends his career
The Dallas Mavericks superstar ushered in a style revolution in the NBA, shaped the fadeaway shot and made basketball more popular in Germany than ever before - that's over now.
At his last home game on April 10th, Nowitzki announced the end of his career. "It was my last home game, as you expected," he said.
With 30 points, the German shows his best performance in the 2018/19 season and will be celebrated extensively by the 19,200 fans at the end of his 21st NBA season wearing the franchise jersey. With 30 points, Nowitzki also replaces Michael Jordan as the oldest player to achieve this number of points.
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