A couple of months ago, we learned Dirk would be the subject of a documentary that was two years in the making. It premiered in September in Germany, and while it has not been released to the United States yet, Dirk has said that there are talks to do that with an English-dubbed version of the film.
But in the meantime, for those of you who don't speak German, here's a review/recap of the documentary.
The Legend of Dirk...as a movie!
This documentary is yet another affirmation of a well known fact: Yes, Dirk is indeed this very likable, friendly and down-to-earth next door guy and NBA superstar. This is hardly news for Mavs fans, but it is still a joy to watch. It's what makes him special among his peers, and it's the reason why we love and identify with him.
Clearly, the German director, who is known for his documentaries on the Third Reich and the Klitschko twins, adores his subject. His film has become something of a monument, an homage and tribute to Dirk as a human being and a basketball player.
Granted unprecedented access for the last two years, the 105-minute movie is a detailed, charming and -- only at times -- cheesy roundup of Dirk's fairy tale-like story, chronicling his transformation from a shy, self-doubting Bavarian rookie to NBA champ and man of the people. Along the ride, we meet the Nowitzki family, former German and US teammates, his Mavs foster mother, Mark Cuban, ESPN's Marc Stein, Barack Obama, his Nike agent and blue collar father among many others.(Speaking of his dad, in the Nowitzki household, Dirk's finals MVP trophy has to take a backseat to a Handball Cup his daddy had won some 50 years ago.)
Accolades by Kobe
Sure enough, all of those listed above rave about his achievements and character. Even Kobe gushes about Dirk's skills, his work ethic and says that in terms of dedication to their craft they both are on par. Is there higher praise that Nowitzki can receive from one of his peers?
Dirk's low points are not left out: his tragic liaison with con artist Chrissie, the depressing defeat in the 2006 Finals, and his long lasting battle to be finally (fair or unfair) recognized as a winner are all included.
On top of grainy tennis, handball and basketball video footage, we also get rare glimpses into Dirk's present private life. There he is on a bowling alley getting dissed by his friends for his poor play. There he is on the clay court, dropping another ace and singing his own praises. There is his Kenyan-Swedish sweetheart and wife who subtly mocks her husband's stiffness and remembers the one time when she asked him to dress as Martina Navratilova for a costume party. "Done!," Nowitzki answers.
The mad scientist
The secret star of the movie is the wondrous and weird Holger Geschwinder, Dirk's discoverer, teacher, mentor, agent, shot doctor, psychologist and friend.
To say Geschwinder does things differently would be an understatement. Here follows my top 7 Holger fun facts that are revealed in the film:
- He studies the correlation between basketball and jazz, and researches the perfect trajectory of a jump shot with the help of some special computer software.
- He once scored 100 points in a Bundesliga game.
- The often wordless communication between him and Dirk is described by Dirk's wife as "telepathy".
- He does not need credentials for the NBA Finals. He just walks in.
- He is known for wearing that same smelly sweater for days. (He just does not care.)
- The "toolbox": He adds one new element to Dirk's game every summer in this old and tiny village gym.
- Rick Carlisle confesses that it is okay for him if Holger shows up at a team practice and grabs Dirk in order to work with him alone. (Carlisle says that with a smile and a shoulder shrug, and I love him for that.)
Same old Dirk
Not to repeat myself, but what stands out most in this documentary is how freaking likable this guy is. Dirk tells us that the NBA recently did some study where he came out as the most marketable guy in the whole league! And yet, he has only two sponsors, because he does not want to be "pulled through the arena by a nose ring in the summer."
Or try this gem: While on summer vacation in Würzburg, his mother always goes to the ATM to get him some pocket money. Yeah, he behaves like a mama's boy, but kind of in a tongue-in-cheek heart-melting kind of way. And when he has to reflect upon his stardom, he says things like: "Yeah, well, I am relatively good at putting a ball in a basket."
So watch it, won't you?
Mike Liem is a writer based in Germany and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to Mike for contributing the excellent recap and look behind the scenes at Dirk.