For some NBA fans, Dirk Nowitzki is one of the greatest players to ever play the game. But for Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner, Dirk was more than an all-time great.
A hero in Germany
Eleven years ago, Nowitzki led the Dallas Mavericks to a historic NBA championship, beating the legendary trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Indeed, it was an unforgettable moment for the loyal Mavs. But for Franz and his brother Moe, it was the start of something bigger.
Moe said he was “grateful” for that moment in 2011 because it was when “Dirk kind of taught me what winning could mean to people.” On the other hand, his younger brother Franz was not content to rejoice at the victory of a compatriot. He felt something deeper.
According to Franz, Dirk’s triumphant 2011 paved the way for all German basketball players. More importantly, Franz said that Nowitzk’s quiet way of achieving success represented the humility of the German people; from then on it became their most unique identity in the world of basketball.
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“The way he did it, I think it’s so much like Dirk,” Franz said NBA.com. “And so unique for an NBA player. The way he did it so humbly, never forgetting what brought him there, I think is what Germans can relate to the most. I think it meant a lot to everyone who loves basketball in Germany.
Franz added that in addition to unraveling the unfathomable trait of the German people, “German Jesus” also gave hope to his countrymen.
“That’s why he’s so important, I think, for young German players,” he underlined. “He makes everything seem possible.”
Another foreigner replaced Dirk
Undeniably, Nowitzki was one hell of a player. And his legacy needs no further explanation – being the most successful foreign-born player in history, the 2011 NBA champion and 14-time NBA All-Star already speaks for itself.
But like some of his fellow NBA legends, Dirk was also well aware that one day someone would break his records and surpass him. And according to the man himself, that day had come when Luka Doncic arrived in Dallas.
“He’s got such a special talent and he’s already so good at leading the court at just 21, 22 and his game just amazing. I’d say he’s better than me now than I ever was in my life. apogee”, Nowitzki said of Doncic.
Indeed, the claims of Franz Wagner and Nowitzki were bold. But whether we believe them or not, one thing we can’t refute is that Dirk, as a German and as a basketball player, was an absolute legend.