Believe it or not, basketball is one of the top three sports recognized and celebrated in Germany and as a result, the country has produced a number of basketball stars of international repute and Dirk Nowitzki counts among them. Others his kind include Paul Zipser and Dennis Schröder who like Nowitzki are celebrated for their exceptional basketball skills. For Dirk, he did not only rise to become his country’s best player but also a constant force to be reckoned with in America’s NBA. He hung his boots in 2019, leaving behind records that will forever remain fresh in the hearts of faithful fans of the Dallas Mavericks where the German spent all of his NBA days.
Growing Up In a Sports Inclined Family
Dirk Werner Nowitzki was born on June 19, 1978, in Würzburg, West Germany to his parents, Jörg-Werner and Helga Nowitzki. He has a sister, Silke Nowitzki.
Born into a family of athletes, his mother Helga is a well-celebrated retired professional basketball player and his father Jörg-Werner also is a celebrated former handball player best known for representing Germany at the international level.
His older sister Silke Nowitzki who now works with the NBA on International TV also made a record as a local champion in basketball and in track and field.
Growing up, young Dirk who perhaps wanted to follow in the footsteps of his dad, picked interest in handball, but destiny had other plans up her sleeves.
Developing His Skills Under The Tutelage of Holger Geschwindner
Dirk Nowitzki attended Röntgen Gymnasium Grammar School based in Würzburg where he not only studied but was very active in sports activities. He was even named a junior tennis player in the German youth circuit. When he was 15 years old, he joined DJK Würzburg, a local sports club where he discovered he would do better as a basketball player.
Dirk Nowitzki was later discovered by Holger Geschwindner, a former German international basketball player, who offered to coach him. Under the guidance of Holger, Dirk perfected his skills in basketball and even went further to learn other skills like playing musical instruments.
Dirk Nowitzki’s Journey To The NBA
Dirk Nowitzki’s steady progress caught the attention of many European clubs after his participation in the Nike “Hoop Heroes Tour” where he played with top professional players like Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley. His success in the game also helped to ease his way to the professional level. Eventually, he made his way to the NBA after being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks as the overall 9th pick in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft, he was later traded to Dallas Mavericks.
Though his initial performance with the NBA team was poor, he began to make a huge impact on the team in the early 2000s. Thanks to the restructuring of the professional team, Dirk’s performance increased; he became a runner-up for NBA’s Most Improved Player Award.
His Long-term NBA Career Has Been Embellished With Several Accolades
Nowitzki spent his entire professional career with the Dallas Mavericks where he became 14-times NBA All-Star, NBA Three-Point Shootout champion, BBL top Scorer and Most Valuable Player, 3 times FIBA EuroBasket Top Scorer, 6 times Euroscar Player of the Year and Mister Europa Player of the Year, to mention just a few.
Dirk Nowitzki’s consistency and inspiring career not only earned him many prestigious awards including the 2011 Silbernes Lorbeerblaff, 2012 Naismith Legacy Award, and 2020 Liaureus Lifetime Achievement, but has also earned him a worthy reputation as one of the greatest foreigners in the history of the American basketball world.
Dirk is the first European player to feature in an All-Star Game and also to be voted NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP). The gifted athlete is likewise the first non-American player to receive the Naismith Legacy Award and also the highest-scoring foreign-born player in the annals of NBA.
A Look At His Indelible Record In The League
The former NBA superstar played for the American professional basketball team, the Dallas Mavericks, for twenty-one years and ended his career as NBA’s sixth-highest scorer with over 31,000 points. He is the first player to be voted into the All-NBA team.
In addition, Dirk Nowitzki is also Mavericks’ all-time statistical leader for a regular season in minutes (51,368), games (1,522), points (31,560), rebounds (11,489), blocks (1,281), field goals (11,169), three-point field goals (1,982), and free-throws (7,240).
He is equally their all-time statistical leader for playoffs in minutes (5,895), games (145), points (3,663), rebounds (1,447), blocks (129), assists (360), steals (149), field goals (1,220), and free-throws (1,074).
The ex-pro is the NBA record holder for most seasons played with a team and most games played in a career spent with only one team with his 1,522 appearances for Dallas Mavericks. He is also the record holder for the highest free-throws made in a single playoff season with his 205 free-throws in 2006.
Additionally, the multi-award-winning athlete is the only NBA player to register the minimum of a combined 31,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, 1,000 steals, 1,000 blocks, and 1,000 three-point field goals.
The Former A-List Player First Met His Wife At a Sports Event
Dirk Nowitzki got acquainted with his future wife, Jessica Olsson at a fundraiser for the Sports for Education and Economic Development (SEED) Project on a snowy night in Dallas in February 2010. SEED is a nonprofit organization, based in Senegal that uses basketball as a platform for engaging youths in athletic, academic, and leadership programs.
In the course of the event, the renowned former NBA player was beguiled to raise his hand during an auction which prompted him to make a huge donation in exchange for a Rolando Diaz painting with an offer to go on two dates for charity. Prior to that circumstance, he was hoping to nail a real date with the beautiful Jessica Olsson whom he met earlier that night.
Olsson, who is the daughter of a Swedish father and a Kenyan mother, Njeri Waikwa from Nanyuki, was working at the Dallas art gallery at the time. She grew up with athletically inclined siblings – younger twin brothers, Marcus, and Martin Olsson who are now professional football players for Derby County FC and Swansea City FC respectively.
Following Dirk and Jessica’s first date in early 2010, the duo fell head over heels in love with each other. Nowitzki has attributed the reason for falling in love with Olsson to her beauty, intelligence, and love for sports.
As African traditions demand that a traditional marriage which involves paying the bride’s dowry in the presence of both families and relatives must be done, Dirk Nowitzki first tied the knot with his sweetheart in a traditional ceremony called “ruracio” (dowry payment) at Nanyuki, Kenya in mid-2012. Following this, the couple then had their formal European wedding on July 20th, 2012 at their home in Dallas, Texas.
The couple share three kids, a daughter named Malaika (born in July 2013), and two sons, Max and Morris who were born in March 2015 and November 2016 respectively.