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 Mavs faithful. But for Franz and his brother Moe, it was the start of something bigger.
Moe said that he’s “grateful” for that moment in 2011 as it was the time when “Dirk kind of taught me what winning could mean to people.” On the other hand, his younger brother Franz did not just rejoice in the victory of a compatriot. He felt something more profound.
According to Franz, Dirk’s triumphant 2011 paved the way for all German basketball players. More importantly, Franz said that Nowitzk’s low-key way of pulling it off represented the German people's humility; from that point on, it became their most unique identity in the world of basketball.
“The way he did it, I think that’s so Dirk-like,” Franz told NBA.com. “And so unique for an NBA player. The way he did it so humble, never kind of forgetting what got him there, I think that’s what Germans can identify with the most. I think that meant a lot for everybody that loves basketball in Germany.”
Franz added that aside from unraveling the unfathomed trait of the German people, “German Jesus” also gave his fellow countrymen hope.
“That’s why he’s so important I think for young German players,” he pointed out. “He kind of makes it all seem possible.”
Another foreigner has replaced Dirk
Undeniably, Nowitzki was one heck of a player. And his legacy needs no further explanation -- being the highest-scoring foreign-born player in history, 2011 NBA champion and 14-time NBA All-Star already speak for themselves.
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 such a special talent and so good already at leading the floor at just 21, 22, and his just unbelievable all-around game. I would say he is better than me now than I've ever been in my prime,” Nowitzki said of Doncic.
Indeed, Franz Wagner and Nowitzki’s claims 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.