Kobe Bryant On How Dirk Nowitzki Has Impacted The Game

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Kobe Bryant On How Dirk Nowitzki Has Impacted The Game

by Lenny Carlos and Damien Peters

 

When Dirk Nowitzki joined the NBA, numerous players and coaches alike didn’t believe Nowitzki would even last in the league, let alone break all kinds of records for a big man. But he has done that, and continued to prove the doubters wrong throughout his glamorous career. Nowitzki not only changed the game for international players, but changed the game forever overall.

Young NBA fans growing up now will see the likes of Karl-Anthony Town, Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid knocking down threes from the outside, but what they don’t realize is Nowitzki paved the way for every shot making big man that can step away from the basket and be a deadly weapon. Nowitzki didn’t just create the true definition of a “stretch 4 and stretch 5” he revolutionized those positions forever. Previously, players were drafted out of college into the NBA purely on their size and ability to rebound the ball and possibly block shots. Now, NBA scouts are asking “Can he step away from the basket? Can he pick-and-pop? Can he handle the ball? Can he score? What’s his range?” All these questions are now relevant, because Nowitzki has dominated and scored the basketball in ways in which we’ve never seen big men put the ball in the basket for such a long period of time.

If that wasn’t enough, Nowitzki also invented his signature shot which is now an NBA norm – the one legged fade away jumper. The likes of Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade have all added his shot to their arsenal, as Nowitzki made a living of torching opponents with it. What was once thought of as a bad and unbalanced shot, Nowitzki perfected and made it his go to move, which has still proven to be unstoppable even to this day.

During a conference call I was part of, Kobe Bryant was asked for his take on how Dirk Nowitzki has impacted the sport over the past couple decades. Bryant, who experienced the incredible abilities of Nowitzki first hand, when his Lakers got swept by Dirk and the Mavericks in the 2011 Western Conference Semi Finals, explained:

 

“Dirk kind of went the opposite way. When he first came in the league, he took a lot of threes. The year they won championships he might have taken half the threes than when he first came in the league.
The idea of having a guy that was 7′, 7’1″ that could stretch the floor, that was revolutionary. I’m sure it inspired a lot of bigs to be able to say, You know what, I want to be like Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk, he was looking at guys like Arvydas Sabonis, Vlade Divac, guys like that.

Dirk obviously took it to a different level because of his mobility, the ability to put the ball on the floor and spin. But by and large, when Dirk won that championship that year, the biggest problem we had with him, that Miami and all the other teams had with him, wasn’t his picking and popping, it was his ability to play at the free-throw line and below the free-throw line. For him, that was his biggest growth as a player.”

 

For NBA purists, Nowitzki’s impact, excellence and greatness will never be forgotten. He is an NBA MVP, Finals MVP, a part of the 30,000-point club, a part of the 50-40-90 club, the most decorated and successful international player ever and an NBA Champion in one of the very best individual playoff and Finals runs you are likely to ever see as the Dallas Mavericks were crowned champions in 2011.

Oh, and since Nowitzki has confirmed to come back and play for another season, he will pass Kobe Bryant on the ‘most seasons played with one team’ list, and will set an NBA record when playing his 21st NBA season with the Mavs.

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