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Dirk Nowitzki

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In Dallas, Nowitzki joined a franchise which had last made the playoffs in 1990. Shooting guard Michael Finley captained the squad, supported by 7-foot-6-inch (2. 29 m) center Shawn Bradley (once a number two draft pick) and team scoring leader Cedric Ceballos, an ex-Laker forward. The start of the season was delayed by the 1998–99 NBA lockout, which put the entire season in jeopardy. In limbo, Nowitzki returned to DJK Würzburg and played thirteen games before both sides worked out a late compromise deal that resulted in a shortened NBA schedule of only 50 games. When the season finally started, Nowitzki struggled. Played as a power forward by coach Don Nelson, the 20-year-old felt overpowered by the more athletic NBA forwards, was intimidated by the expectations as a number nine pick, and played bad defense; hecklers taunted him as "Irk Nowitzki", omitting the "D" which stands for "defense" in basketball slang. He only averaged 8. 2 points and 3. 4 rebounds in 20. 4 minutes of playing time. Looking back, Nowitzki said: "I was so frustrated I even contemplated going back to Germany. . . . [the jump from Second Bundesliga to the NBA] was like jumping out of an airplane hoping the parachute would somehow open. " The Mavericks only won 19 of their 50 games and missed the playoffs.

2012 wurde er als erster Nicht-Amerikaner mit dem Naismith Legacy Award ausgezeichnet.


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