Incredible stories about Nowitzki have surfaced as the Dallas Mavericks retire his No. 41 jersey at the American Airlines Center on Wednesday. Legends like Kevin Garnett, the late Kobe Bryant and others often lauded Nowitzki's competitive spirit.
The Athletic's Tim Cato wrote a piece headlining all the amazing stories about Nowitzki's career in the NBA.
One such story was about Garnett. The rivals played the same position (power forward) and are among the two best to ever play that position. They went head-to-head on both ends of the floor.
Nowitzki and Garnett didn't like each other. Garnett was a famous trash-talker. During one game against Minnesota, Nowitzki mustered the courage to talk back to Garnett. KG fell to the floor after a play and Dirk said,
"Get your a** up, we ain't through kicking your a**."
That was when KG and Dirk developed a mutual respect for each other.
Chad Lewis, an equipment manager during Nowitzki's time in Dallas, recalled the incident, saying:
"He finally got the confidence in himself to be able to go back at 'em, and that was a big part of his growth and maturation."
Thaddeus Young recalls a story about Dirk Nowitzki teaching him mid-game
Few players have made an impact in the NBA as Dirk Nowitzki has. The German forward changed the game for the better, inspiring several big men to stretch the floor and expand their game. During the latter part of his career, Nowitzki started to share knowledge with his younger counterparts.
The San Antonio Spurs' Thaddeus Young shared a story about Nowitzki with The Athletic's Tim Cato about how Nowitzki started to tell his defenders how to guard him. Young said:
"He would tell you, 'You should've taken this angle. You would've prevented me from getting to the ball. ... 'Stay down' (right before a fake shot). ... He would tell me certain things, and I'm very appreciative of that. He was a teacher, and he didn't even know it."
What makes this story about Nowitzki even more amazing is that he would teach his defenders how to guard him and then still execute. The defender would almost feel helpless after a point, and that is how Nowitzki got inside the heads of his opponents.
His former teammate Jason Terry concurred, saying:
"It was almost psychological. It's almost like Larry Bird. He's telling you what he's going to do before he does it, and then he still does it."
The Dallas Mavericks host Stephen Curry and the league-best Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Center on Wednesday night at 7:30 PM ET. One can be sure that Nowitzki's jersey retirement is going to make all the highlights, regardless of the game's result.