Martin Luther King Jr Day is a day to celebrate a great man who broke down barriers and paved the way for others. To a respectfully lesser extent, the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki is that same type of man.
Dirk Nowtizki will one day go into the Nation Basketball Hall of Fame and that is a fact no one can argue with. While the Dallas Mavericks icon is known for his ability to shoot, pass and score, his difference off the field is something that stretches far beyond his ability as a B-Ball player.
The German stud was born in a city called Wurzburg. While the German city has its own basketball club, most cities in the country are best know well for futbol’ (or soccer in America).
Of the many players who played basketball in the German league, the amount of them who made into the NBA was slim to none. It was not until Dirk made it into the NBA, that the idea of a German player playing basketball in the United States was a thing.
Like Martin Luther King, Dirk too helped paved the way for men. It is because of the Dallas Mavericks’ seven footer that the idea of Germans in the NBA is a thing. They now feel a sense of belonging in the NBA – a feeling that wasn’t always the case.
Since the 1998 NBA draft, the year Dirk got selected, the NBA has seen an increase in basketball players coming from East of the United States.
Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder is one of those players to have come from Dirks homeland. Another player to have fallen into the same footsteps as Dirk, is current Mavericks player Maxi Kleber. The 6’11” forward was coincidentally born in the same tiny town of Wurzburg as his teammate.
Wait there is more equality Dirk brought………..
There was once a time when seeing a 7-foot white European in an NBA All-Star game was laughable. Since his first All Star game, the big German went on to make 12 more appearances in the big game. Seeing the seven foot German in the All Star festival went from being unusual to business as usual.
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Dirk didn’t have to endure the hate and discrimination that MLK did, but he broke plenty of barriers. He proved a 7-footer was allowed to play something other than center. He showed that the European game could translate to the NBA game. He even proved the European game could even revolutionize it.
Dirk proved a 7-footer could shoot from the outside and be one of the best 3-point shooters in the NBA. He showed just because a country values soccer above all, other sports do exist and do contribute internationally.
And on an interpersonal level Dirk showed us he was more than just the goofy outsider. He proved he could be a team leader. He proved he could be one of the guys even though he came from a much different background. He married a woman of Kenyan decent, started a family, integrated into the Dallas community, and basically broke down every barrier set before him.
Martin Luther King Jr once said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
While we may not see it, this is something that Dirk Nowitzki has lived by example and ultimately paved for others to follow. Simply said, he may broke down barriers.
In the end, the Mavs’ Hall of Famer was no longer judged by being the only white player in the All-Star game or seen as just a European anomaly. He was just one of the guys.
The moves the Mavericks’ All Star made by paving the way for Germans to take on the NBA game and the idea of living his life, not by color or nationality but by his character, is something that should never get overlooked.
If there one player who resembles the words MLK spokes it is none other than Dallas’ own Dirk Nowitzki.