I remember having floor seats to a long series of Maverick games a few years back. Sitting nearly under the goal Dirk smashes the ball and lands in my lap spilling my drink on a new suit I mistakenly wore that evening. The giant picks himself up and says, “buy the man a beer.”
This may not be the biggest thrill the man has impressed upon me over the years. He amassed 31,560 points in his incredible career, the sixth-most ever, and he retires ninth in made field goals, 11th in 3s, sixth in free throws, and sixth in wins. He is, unquestionably, one of the greatest players in NBA history, and he’s on the shortlist of best offensive players ever and most unguardable non-centers the league has ever seen.
Thankfully some old NBA footage has survived, and much can be gleaned from it. Take this video the NBA shared the other day, which shows clips of every single Finals MVP of the last 50 years. Look how different the league was in the ’60s and ’70s. It was almost unrecognizable even in the ’90s. The NBA we know and love today is wide-open. There’s usually never more than three or four bodies in the paint at any given time. Everyone shoots 3s.
We can thank Dirk for all of that.
In the last few years, the world has come to openly love Dirk because of his impact on the game and for his loyalty to Dallas and the franchise. Doc Rivers stops a game and tells the fans to thank Dirk, and he gets a moving standing ovation. Fans in Boston, Indianapolis, Charlotte, and Brooklyn didn’t sit down while he was on the floor. And, on the last night of the season — and in San Antonio, no less — fans were openly cheering for Nowitzki even in a game the Spurs needed to win in order to avoid the eighth seed.
We all love Dirk. He is a legend. Buy the man a beer.
Dirk Nowitzki turns 41 today.