On a recent episode of The Etc’s with KD, Kevin Durant discussed the influence that Dallas Mavericks’ legend Dirk Nowitzki had on Durant’s game. Because of Nowitzki’s long and storied career, Durant thinks the Big German should be the last speaker at the 2023 Basketball Hall of Fame induction later this summer.
“He inspired a lot of bigs to step out and work on their jump shots,” Durant said. “He had an unstoppable shot himself that he coined and that he just created, that everybody followed around the world. A lot of people don’t talk about that, the fact that the one-legged fade is just a staple in the game. And it was used by him mostly his whole career.”
.@KDTrey5 on the newest Hall of Fame class:— Boardroom (@boardroom) April 5, 2023
"I see @swish41 [as the final speaker at the HOF induction]. Longest career, just most storied career."
New ETCs out now: https://t.co/AZqx9Sd8fa pic.twitter.com/qx5bEfJoec
Basketball is like this, more than any other sport, where one legend was inspired by another legend, who modeled his game after another legend before him, and so on, back until the tapes are all in black and white film. Nowitzki has talked about the NBA greats that inspired him—Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Shawn Kemp, and Detlef Schrempf. He took something from each of them, and wouldn’t have been the Dirk we know without their influence. Without Nowitzki, it’s possible Durant isn’t the player he is today, hitting smooth jumpers three feet behind the arc.
“He impacted me as a young player, and a lot of my friends as well,” Durant said. “Someone from Europe who can shoot it like that, at that size, at that point...and then by the early 2000’s it was, yeah, he really solidified himself as one of the best players in the league.”
Durant joins a chorus of the greatest players of the 21st century praising Nowitzki’s game. “The idea of having a guy that was 7′, 7’1″ that could stretch the floor, that was revolutionary,” Kobe Bryant told ESPN back in 2018. “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.”
“I think he’s the greatest international player ever,” LeBron James said after the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Mavericks on Christmas Day in 2022, the night Nowitzki’s statue was unveiled outside the American Airlines Center. I put him right there with Manu [Ginobli]. That boy was cold, man. Dirk was cold. He revolutionized was a stretch four big could look like. Dirk was tough for sure.”
It’s likely we’ll be talking about Nowitzki’s influence and legacy for years to come, and it won’t be long before a player in his 20’s right now will be saying similar things about Durant before his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.