Rivals bring out the best in each other and push each other on the court. Western Conference titans Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan all went to war during their heydays. For Dirk, he used that as a motivation in his career.
Mutual respect among rivals
You couldn’t see Kobe, Dirk, and Timmy sharing meals or taking vacations during their heydays. They were not friends, the chummy type, but maintained a high level of respect for one another. Kobe vs. Dirk happened 53 times, with the Lakers star holding a 32-21 record over the sweet-shooting forward. However, Nowitzki has a 4-0 advantage over Kobe in the postseason.
Despite the scoring barrage, the respect between them was not lost. The Black Mamba even approved Dirk’s crucial basket one time in a Mavs vs. Lakers game.
On the other hand, in the battle for Texas, Tim Duncan vs. Dirk Nowitzki happened 90 times. Timmy holds a 53-37 record in the regular season and an 18-15 advantage in the playoffs. Their battles have always been fascinating: two old-school forwards who do their job with great efficiency. If Dirk revolutionized big men who can shoot from the outside, TD became the standard for power forwards in the NBA.
It’s not surprising that Dirk mentioned these two rivals as his motivation. Bryant earned a reputation as an obsessive student of the game who burned himself in practices. Meanwhile, Duncan cared for his body and worked on his fundamentals without a fault, never taking the game for granted. So during those hard days, when he would struggle to find motivation, Dirk just thought of his rivals.
“I would think, ‘Kobe isn’t sleeping in and Tim Duncan isn’t sleeping in…’”
Dirk Nowitzki, via
— Dorothy J. Gentry (@DorothyJGentry) January 4, 2022
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Their rivalry was possible because all three were something that will probably become extinct with Steph Curry - a superstar lifer. Bryant spent his 20 years in a purple and gold jersey, Dirk stayed in Dallas for 21 years, and Duncan was in San Antonio for 19 years.
Mavs set to retire Dirk’s number
Nowitzki is set to have his jersey retired at American Airlines Center. He deserved the recognition for his contributions to the game and the franchise. Dirk was one of the nicest players around when he was playing. He remained committed and loyal to the city and created little to no drama off the court. Most importantly, number 41 helped deliver the team’s only title in 2011.
Mark Cuban naturally pulled all the stops to celebrate the special moment. Special Dirk Nowitzki collectibles will be made available during his jersey retirement, as well as the unveiling of a museum in his honor. In the special museum showcase, fans can see championship rings, All-Star jerseys, shoes, and memorabilia.
It’s nice to see Dirk getting all the love and appreciation he deserves. It’s also nice to see him paying respect to his rivals Kobe and Tim Duncan. The three of them changed the game forever, and fans will never see another Kobe, Dirk, or Timmy.