Dirk Nowitzki is inarguably one of the greatest big men to ever play basketball. Nowitzki changed the way people looked at big-man scorers, playing with an incredibly deft touch and a killer scoring arsenal. Dirk retired from the NBA as an all-time great, ranking in the top 10 for total points scored, winning a championship, a Finals MVP, and a regular-season MVP in his career.
Nowitzki's impact on the NBA was massive, but it's nothing compared to how he impacted basketball in Germany. He was responsible for some of the biggest ratings German basketball has ever enjoyed in their home country. In a country that decidedly watches soccer over basketball, Nowitzki made basketball a household sport.
Nowitzki enjoyed an 18-year stint playing for the senior national team, starting in 1997 and playing until 2015. During his time with the national team, Germany won a Bronze medal at the 2002 FIBA World Championships and a Silver medal at EuroBasket 2005, winning MVP and scoring title in both campaigns.
As a result of his incredible contributions to the German basketball landscape, Nowitzki was honored as the first player in the team's history to have a jersey retired. The ceremony took place earlier today during Germany's opening EuroBasket fixture against France.
The Dallas Mavericks front office featuring Mark Cuban and Nico Harrison, along with coach Jason Kidd were sitting in the stands and applauding their franchise's best player ever. Even Luka Doncic, who had played for Slovenia earlier that day, sat in the crowd and watched his former teammate and mentor get his jersey put in the rafters in Cologne.
Nowitzki represented Germany in 19 sanctioned FIBA events over his international career. He averaged 19.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists over these games. His single-best tournament performance for Germany came in the 2005 EuroBasket, where the team won a silver medal. Dirk averaged 26.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in that campaign.