Charles Barkley To Dirk Nowitzki: Dude, Who The Hell Are You?
In honor of Dirk Nowitzki’s Hall of Fame induction tomorrow, let’s throw it back to Charles Barkley explaining his first meeting with Dirk Nowitzki.
This will forever be one of my favorite stories. Greatness!
“Well, you know I got a great affinity for Dirk. I think he’s a great, great player; obviously he’s going into the hall of fame. I think he’s the greatest forward player ever — I do. I think he’s the greatest forward player ever. And Nike used to take us — even before we had the Dream Team, Nike would send us to different countries to play, and one year we went to Germany.
“I had Scottie Pippen with me, who was probably, at that time, was the best defender in the world. I had a bunch of NBA players. We had like eight to 10 NBA players. So we go to Germany and Dirk is — I don’t even know who he is. I see this tall, gangly kid out there. Dirks got 30 — 27, 28 points at halftime. So he’s killing us. And I forget who the big guys on the team was. It might have been Elden Campbell or something like that, a couple of big guys.
“So Scottie says, ‘I got this, I got this. I’m going to lock this down in the second half.’ So Dirk finishes with like 52, and I said Scottie, ‘who is this guy right there?’ He said, ‘Dude, we don’t know who this guy is.’ So I walk up to Dirk and start talking — he had that thick German accent — and I said, ‘Dude, how old are you?’ He said, ‘I’m 18.’ I say, ‘You going to college?’ He says, ‘I got to go into the army.’ I say, ‘You’re not going into the army, you’re 7-feet tall … you can’t hide behind no hill at 7-feet tall.’
“So I say, ‘I tell you what, you should go to Auburn. No matter what it costs, I’ll pay your way to Auburn. Give me a number or somebody to get in contact with you. You’re going to Auburn,’ and we exchanged all the information. I got Nike to get everything, and this was in the middle of the summer and then the next year the Mavericks actually drafted Dirk, so he never actually got a chance to go to Auburn. So that’s why I always hate the Mavericks for taking him away from Auburn.”