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The words “Man, I hate Dirk Nowitzki” were once said by some guy who didn’t like basketball and knew nothing about it.
Yeah, that was me.
It was sometime in 2005 on a Saturday morning. I was off school and flipping through the channels on our family TV. We, like so many other Australian families had Foxtel (cable) which came with all the sports channels so of course I found myself on ESPN.
I can’t recall who the Mavericks were playing but I did know for sure that Dirk Nowitzki was on the screen. You see, my basketball knowledge and exposure was pretty limited because I lived in Australia and the NBA hadn’t really globalised like it has today. I knew of Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal but that was it.
So, seeing some lanky German guy dominating the game was odd to me.
I continued to watch that Mavs game only to get frustrated more and more with Dirk’s ability to hit mad range jumpers. Why wasn’t he flying through the air dunking it? Why wasn’t he dribbling the ball through his legs? These elements of his game seemed be lacking and I realised it was because I thought he was a boring player. Like I said, my basketball knowledge was minimal.
The next morning the same thing happened, I was back watching ESPN and the Mavs were on a second night of a back to back where Nowitzki was still hitting those shots. I was actively rooting against Dirk; I hated him.
“Give the ball to DeSagana Diop,” I said. I wish I could remember the games I saw that weekend, but unfortunately all that comes to mind is DeSagana Diop. Who would have thought he would be my initial reason for wanting to watch the NBA?
The only move from here was to go and buy NBA Live‘05 for my Playstation (Carmelo Anthony was on the cover), use the Mavericks as my team and never pass the ball to Dirk. Okay, I was a teenager, my logic was weird and twisted, but I knew that somehow this would help me stick it to him.
Wrong. It took maybe a week before I realised Dirk was everything I ever wanted and more. The Mavs won the championship that season on my Playstation, where I’m pretty sure Dirk averaged 45 points a game. 2006 in real life was unfortunately not as successful, but hey, let’s not dwell on that. We didn’t come here to talk about one of the biggest stitch-ups in NBA history.
The playoff run of 2011 will definitely go down as one of my all-time favorite sports memories. I took just about every day off work that the Mavericks played, my application to take leave with my employer was comical as I requested to have Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Tuesday off, etc etc.
No one in my office understood the weight of the situation, but it was a big deal for me like so many Mavs fans around the world.
In December of 2015, I finally managed to get to a Mavs game while travelling in Brooklyn. Dirk passed Shaquille O’Neil on the all-time leading scorer list that night, and I lost my voice screaming from the bleachers. It was one of the coolest moments ever and I was lucky enough to hang around after the game and meet the team. Minus Dirk.
Yeah. I’ve still gotta meet the GOAT.
Being a Dallas Mavericks fan in Perth, Australia can be difficult at times and has its challenges — especially covering them for this site. Setting an alarm at 2 a.m. just to check free agency or trade news is a thing, but it’s all totally worth it to be a part of the best sport in the world while cheering for your favorite team.
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