For a guy who has won the NBA MVP and brought the championship hardware to Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki’s name simply doesn’t come up as much as it should in conversations about the best NBA players of the era. Those conversations tend to get stuck on LeBron James and Kobe Bryant–and too often can’t see the forest for those two trees. Yet Dirk Nowitzki toils elegantly in that forest–and, man, is he good. (Career stats: Nowitzki averages 3 points less than Kobe per game, but 3 more rebounds. Their playoff scoring averages are dead even at 25.6 points per game, with Dirk upping the rebounding differential to +5 in the playoffs. Kobe leads in assists by a wide margin.)
Fan Chris Nash expresses the widespread feeling of Dirk devotion at the excellent hashtag #ILoveDirkBecause, writing that he loves Dirk because of “the pure jumper and the pure heart.” Nowitzki’s loyal to his team and plays hard every night–you can look long and hard for those two qualities among NBA superstars and not always find it. The accolades are getting louder now as Dirk nears the end of his brilliant career. (Not that he’ll go gentle into that good night, the Mavs should contend for the championship this year.) Marc Stein at ESPN writes about the premiere of a new documentary on Dirk that just premiered in Cologne, Germany. (Irresistibly, a Dirkumentary.) It’s called Nowitzki: Der Perfekte Wurf, which means Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot. Dirk is so well-loved that a Dallas network of forty people flew to Cologne for the premiere, including Mavs coach Rick Carlisle and teammates Devin Harris and Monta Ellis. Much of the Big D–which stand either for Dallas or for Nowitzki depending on who you ask–would like to have gone to. People love Dirk because.