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Dirk Nowitzki: The German Wonder
The first time the NBA saw a European become a league star was when Drazen Petrovic was making headlines with the Nets. Unfortunately, he never got the chance to show his true potential as he was killed in a car accident in 1993. The NBA would continue to see more and more European players enter the league even after Drazen’s death. , but they could never match the star power he had. That is, until a German named Dirk Nowitzki entered the league.
Nowitzki entered the league in 1998 when he was picked by the Milwaukee Bucks with the ninth overall pick. However, he was immediately traded to the Dallas Mavericks on draft day in exchange for Robert Traylor. Prior to entering the NBA Draft, Nowitzki declined several offers from universities that wanted to acquire him. He became a prep-to-pro player who decided to immediately pursue an NBA career, and that was pretty rare back then.
Dirk struggled during his rookie season and many thought he was a complete draft bust. However, he refused to give up and by his second year in the league, his stats had improved greatly. Playing under Don Nelson, Dirk quickly became one of the league’s rising stars. He became a member of the Dallas Big Three, consisting of himself, Steve Nash and Michael Finley. The Big Three were nearly unstoppable on offense and helped lead the Mavs to the playoffs for five consecutive seasons (2000-2004).
But Nowitzki would eventually find himself the only remaining piece of the Big Three by the 2004 season, his close friend Steve Nash having become a free agent and signed with the Phoenix Suns. The task of becoming the leader of the team now fell on Dirk’s shoulders and although he found it difficult to adapt to the role of leader at first, he has since taken it into his own hands.
Under his guidance, the Mavs would make their first-ever NBA Finals appearance in 2006 where they would lose to the Miami Heat in six games. He would be given a chance for redemption, as the Mavericks would make their second Finals appearance in 2011 against the same team that beat them in 2006. This time however, the outcome would be different as the Mavs would emerge victorious and Dirk ultimately. won his first NBA championship.
Over the years, Dirk has become one of the most unstoppable players in the league due to his versatility. Once his career is over, he will be considered the greatest European player to ever step foot in the NBA.
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