Dirk is the best European of all time

2017-03-08T13:17:35+00:00 2019-04-10T06:31:54+00:00.

Aris Barkas

08/Mar/17 13:17


While for many the duo of Drazen Petrovic and Arvydas Sabonis can’t be touched, the truth is that the German “wonderkid” surpassed everyone.

By Aris Barkas/ barkas@eurohoops.net

One and a half year ago, Eurohoops asked from European fans to vote who is the best European player ever. It’s not a surprise that Drazen Petrovic won the title, followed by Arvydas Sabonis and Dirk Nowitzki was fourth behind Tony Kukoc.

The nostalgia factor in combination with the premature death of Drazen made him a bonified legend in every aspect of his game and his life. Still, the fact that Dirk Nowitzki became the first European who entered the 30.000 points club in the NBA is one more sign that everyone should reconsider.

The generation of European NBA stars of the new millennium, which include the holy trinity of Dirk, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker, were not pioneers, like Drazen, Sabonis and Vlade Divac, but in the biggest stage of the world, they accomplished much more than their predecessors.

Just look at the NBA rings that Gasol (two), Parker (four) and Dirk (one) have and be more than careful on how you measure Nowitzki’s success. Not only he is for almost 15 years the leader of Dallas but he is also the only European player so far who was the undisputed alpha dog in an NBA championship winning team, something that no other player from the old continent has done.

The only other players of the 2011 Dallas team who can qualify as all-time greats are Jason Kidd (who was already 38 years old) and maybe Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic. With a supporting cast of good but not great players, Nowitzki managed to win the title against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh who dominated the NBA after that year.

Until another European star emerges who can be a franchise player and win the NBA title, Nowitzki will be considered the best ever. And if you think that Dirk had just “moderate” success with the German national team, you are also wrong.

While Nowitzki couldn’t win gold with his national team, he led Germany to a bronze medal in the 2002 Mundobasket at Indianapolis and a silver in the 2005 Eurobasket playing virtually alone. Despite finishing third, Nowitzki was the Mundobasket MVP in 2002 and also the top scorer of the tournament. He was also the 2005 Eurobasket MVP and top scorer. He scored more points than anyone else also in 2001 and 2007. Only two other players, Spaniard Pau Gasol and Yugoslav Radovoj Korac have won the Eurobasket scoring title three times and only one, Greek Nick Galis, has won it four times.

And like the true greats of the sport, Nowitzki revolutionized basketball. Despite being a true seven-footer, his trademark is his shot, making most of his damage on the backcourt and not in the paint, paving the way for the trend of the “stretch four“.

In the pre-Nowitzki era, big men were destined to give their battles in the paint and having a reliable shot was just an extra bonus. The fact that more and more forwards – and even centers – are trying to make their mark by shooting threes is one more proof about the influence of the great German in the game.

And even though he didn’t win gold, the standing ovation he got at Belgrade during the Eurobasket 2005 final almost entirely by non-German fans, will be remembered as one of the greatest moments in the history of the competition. It’s the standing ovation that he deserves from all of Europe.