The “Dude” was in full force last night in Dallas. For you non-sports fans, I’m talking about Dirk Nowitzki who is in his 19th year with the Dallas Mavericks reached a milestone that only five other NBA players had accomplished. Those other players are legendary – Kareem, Wilt, Kobe, Karl, and Michael.
Growing up as a Laker fan, I watched Wilt, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich, Magic, and of course Kareem. I was always comparing this tall gangly kid to those folks – and found him wanting. I expected him to be a shot-blocker, or playing power-forward the way Karl Malone or Havlicek played. But he played it differently. Yes, he’s a bit goofy looking and awkward, and he played from the perimeter where the air was rare for 7’ white boys. But you don’t score 30,000 points in the NBA by being mediocre.
What made me a Dirk fan was his work ethic and his willingness to re-invent and improve himself. In this era of “look-at-me” stars, Dirk was coming to work every day and willing to sacrifice the big contracts to stay in Dallas and build his legacy. As a fan of basketball, I hope to see Dirk return next year so he can celebrate 20 years in the NBA. All of those years with one team. He is truly the “Dude.”