Ever since Dirk hoisted the trophy in 2011, nothing but effusive praise has poured out from traditional media and bloggers alike. There seems to be an undeniable fact across the basketball Internet universe: Everybody loves Dirk. However, there seems to be a deeper cause for Dirk's universal likability. Dirk is objectively the best European ever, but he's more than European. Dirk is both cosmopolitan and provincial: an adopted Texan, married to a Kenyan woman, who has been immersed in black culture for the entirety of his 16 years in America. Dirk's unique career arc makes him one of the most culturally diverse athletes in sports.
The perceived German adherence to precision reveals itself in Dirk's game. Spending years of his childhood playing tennis, handball and soccer refined his fine motor skills. Dirk's jumper has quite literally been constructed by the laws of physics with help from his basketball sensei Holger. The very thing that makes Dirk's game so special, precision, roots itself in his German upbringing.
Dirk's game resembles a fine wine and there's nothing basketball purists love more than a fine wine for their basketball pallet. Dirk is beloved by the analytics community -- the high society of the basketball realm-because of what he learned on the playgrounds of Werzberg, Germany and in a claustrophobic gym with a German physicist.
When Dirk arrived in Dallas in 1998, he arrived in a state much different than the rest of America. Since its days as the Lone Star Republic, Texas has viewed itself as an extension of the United States rather a piece of the pie. They view their citizens not as Americans but as Texans. The outlook can be traced to a simple fact: Texas loves Texas. More importantly, Texas loves anyone they deem a Texan.
How could an 18-year old kid form Germany with blond hair and a middle part become an adopted Texan? Simple, Dirk embodies the most charming characteristics of Texas culture as if he's a lead character on Friday Night Lights. His self-deprecating humor, earnest answers with the media, and complete dedication to the Maverick franchise has endeared him towards the city of Dallas.
Dirk's ability to shed his ego humanizes him towards fans. In a time where most athletes are also a brand -- and there's nothing wrong with that -- it's rare to see an athlete so disenchanted with fame. Dirk just plays basketball; nothing more nothing less.
The NBA offers a unique phenomenon that I'm not sure occurs in any other occupation: they bring Europeans to America to work and live predominantly with African-Americans. Dirk has been in America for 16 years, but he's experienced black culture just as much, if not more, more than any other American subculture. His immersion in this culture manifests itself through some of his speech pattern. It's not uncommon to hear Dirk say "bruh" when he's talking to teammates. Dirk speaks with his deep German accent sprinkled with terms and phrases he's picked up from his black teammates. It's what makes his two famous broadcast calls so amazing.
Dirk is bobbin' his head and signing to 2 Chainz "I'm Different" Marion looks behind him and gives him a 0_o look and approves.— Bryan Gutierrez (@BallinWithBryan) February 10, 2013
Furthermore, Dirk is married to a woman who is both Kenyan and Swedish. The pictures of Dirk during their traditional Kenyan wedding might be the single greatest thing on the internet. The sight of a seven-foot German man wearing a dashiki will change your whole life.
In a way, those pictures encapsulate the cultural amalgamation that is Dirk. No matter the city, state, or country, Dirk always seems to be getting along with the people he's around. From Germany to Texas to Kenya, He's just a guy who fits everywhere he shouldn't.