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"It wasn't his picking and popping" — Kobe Bryant on Dirk Nowitzki's greatest weapon against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat in 2011

Based on Kobe's evaluation of Dirk Nowitzki's impact on the game, Stephen Curry may not be the only one responsible for ushering in the 3-point revolution.
Dirk Nowitzki & Kobe Bryant

Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant

To win the 2011 NBA Championship, Dallas Mavericks icon Dirk Nowitzki had to go through several powerhouse teams: the then-defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and the newly-formed Miami Heat Big 3. Kobe Bryant, one of the German’s victims, pointed out that Dirk’s ability to play around the free-throw line enabled the Mavs to power over the Lakers and the Heat.

Biggest problem

Nowitzki was one of the greatest midrange assassins to ever play in the NBA. Apart from this, he was also a stellar free-throw shooter who shot 87.9%. According to Kobe, Nowitzki’s mid-range game wasn’t as polished as it was during his prime. And so the Black Mamba was impressed at how the German worked on his game, particularly how he added a deadly weapon to his arsenal.

"Dirk kind of went the opposite way," Kobe said. "When he first came in the league, he took a lot of threes. The year they won championships he might have taken half the threes than when he first came in the league."

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"When Dirk won that championship that year, the biggest problem we had with him, that Miami and all the other teams had with him, wasn’t his picking and popping, it was his ability to play at the free-throw line and below the free-throw line. For him, that was his biggest growth as a player," Bryant said, per ESPN.

Ushering in the 3-point shooting era

For the past few seasons, we’ve seen NBA teams prioritize the 3-point shot. The 3-point shot is the most valuable weapon a team can have. So much so that teams want power forwards and centers who at least have a decent stroke. Analysts believe that the main driver of this revolution is Stephen Curry. He is credited with transforming the game into what it is today.

However, Kobe’s evaluation of Dirk’s influence on the game should give us a brand new perspective on this revolution. While Curry played a critical part, Nowitzki, too, should be given proper credit.

"The idea of having a guy that was 7′, 7’1″ that could stretch the floor, that was revolutionary. I’m sure it inspired a lot of bigs to be able to say, You know what, I want to be like Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk, he was looking at guys like Arvydas Sabonis, Vlade Divac, guys like that," Kobe said.

Though Dirk only has one championship ring, it would be foolish not to call him one of the greatest to ever play. As Kobe said, Dirk worked hard to improve his offensive arsenal. Along the way, he influenced the way the game is played today.

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