Dirk Werner Nowitzki (born June 19 1978 in
WÃ¼rzburg, Germany) is a basketball player who
stars for the National Basketball
Association|NBA's Dallas Mavericks. The 7'0" (2.13
m) Nowitzki is an all-purpose forward with the
skills to be a dangerous scorer from inside or
outside, and to play any position on the front
line (center, power forward, or small forward). He
is said to be the best white basketball player
since Larry Bird, one of the all-time greatest.
Fans and players alike have taken a liking to
calling him "Dirk Diggler", based on the infamous
porn star featured in Boogie Nights.
A native of WÃ¼rzburg, Nowitzki came from an
athletic family; his father was a team
handball|handball player and his mother was a
member of the German women's national basketball
team. He first gained international attention at
the spring 1998 Hoop Summit, where he scored 33
points to lead a team of international juniors to
a surprise victory over a United States|U.S.
junior team. He was selected ninth overall in the
1998 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, but was
immediately traded to the Mavericks.
Mavs GM Don Nelson touted Nowitzki as the
sure-fire 1998-99 Rookie of the Year at the draft,
a lofty expectation for a 19-year-old who was in
the U.S. for the first time. Dallas fans were
understandably upset, then, when Nowitzki looked
lost when on the floor in mop-up minutes as a
rookie. Determined to prove that he could be a
force in the NBA, Nowitzki returned to Germany in
the 1999 offseason, working hard on sharpening his
total game. The summer of work helped immensely,
as Dirk emerged as a starter and future star in
1999-2000, when he averaged 17.5 points, 6.5
rebounds, and 2.5 assists, finishing second in
voting for the league's Most Improved Player.
The following season (2000-2001|01), he averaged
21.8 points and 9.2 rebounds and became the first
Maverick to be named to the All-NBA team, making
the third team.
In 2001-2002|02, he averaged 23.4 points and 9.9
rebounds and made his first appearance in the NBA
All-Star Game. He was again selected to the
All-NBA team, this time on the second team. In the
following summer, he played on the German national
team that finished third at the Basketball World
Championship|FIBA World Championships in
Indianapolis and was named the tournament MVP.
Before the 2002-2003|03 season, he was named in a
survey of NBA general managers as the league's top
international player. He met those expectations;
he matched his 2001-02 rebound average and
increased his scoring average to a career-high
25.1 points. He was again selected to the All-Star
Game and the All-NBA second team.
He suffered through nagging ankle injuries in
2003-2004|04, but still managed to finish in the
top 10 in the NBA in scoring, at 21.8 ppg, and
added 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He was again
selected for the All-Star Game, and again made the
All-NBA team, this time on the third team.
Nowitzki was one of the Mavericks' few bright
spots in a five-game loss to the Sacramento Kings
in the first round of the 2004 playoffs, averaging
26.6 points and 11.8 rebounds for the series.
On December 2nd, 2004, he scored a career-high 53
points against the Houston Rockets.
Dirk was voted to the first team All-NBA squad for
the 2004-05 season, although the Mavericks were
ousted from the playoffs by the Phoenix Suns, led
by former teammate and current friend Steve Nash.
That season he also earned third place in the
league's Most Valuable Player vote, behind Nash
and Shaquille O'Neal, after posting 26.1 ppg, 9.7
rpg and 3.1 apg during the regular season.