The Dunking Deutschman

Dirk Nowitzki was born in Wurzburg, West Germany on June 19th, 1978. Dirk played for the DJK Wurzburg basketball club in Germany, which led him to become the 9th overall pick in the 1998 draft. He was chosen by the Milwaukee Bucks, but was immediately traded to the Dallas Mavericks and he has played there ever since.

In his rookie season, Dirk struggled. He averaged 8.2 ppg and 3.4 rpg in only 20.4 minutes per game. He became so frustrated that he contemplated returning to Germany. He was even heckled for being unable to play defense and being called “Irk” because he couldn’t play any “D.”

In January of 2000, Mark Cuban purchased the team from Ross Perot, Jr. and it was a deal that paid immediate dividends. Cuban purchased a $46 million jet and attended every game court side. Cuban also make sure that Dirk played more and that resulted in a break-out season in which Dirk averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 35.8 minutes a game. The improvements would continue throughout the years.

Dirk led the Mavericks to 2 NBA Finals in his career, both times against the Miami Heat. The Mavs lost in 2006 and defeated the Big 3 in their first season together in 2011. Dirk will retire at the end of the season and is widely considered to be one of the top 3 power forwards in the history of the NBA. He has had an incredible 21-year career and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible.

By STEVE FARACE | @CineSportsTalk