It's Dirk Week here at The Sports Fan Journal. For no reason in particular, we thought we should take some time to show our appreciation for one of the NBA's most underappreciated superstars. At some point in his next four games, Dirk will join one of the most exclusive clubs in all of sports, the 30,000-point club, cementing him as one of the greatest players in league history. It's not just Dirk's game that we love, it's everything about his storied career on and off the floor. So this week, we'll remember the ups, the downs and everything in-between. Happy Dirk Week, y'all.
Monday: An Open Letter Apology To Dirk Nowitzki
Tuesday: June 2, 2011: The Night Dirk Won Me Over
Wednesday: An Appreciation of the One-Legged Fadeaway
Thursday: Dwyane Wade and Being Assertive Enough
Friday: Coming Soon.
You’ve put together a remarkable career, and I took you for granted. I was a big, dumb, uneducated hater. I’ve reformed, but I missed out on so many years of praise that you rightly deserved.
It all started with the Golden State Warriors upsetting your Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 NBA playoffs. I was a misguided 16-year old who had never seen his favorite basketball team have any kind of success. You were the star of that team, and I connected the upset with you being bad at basketball.
From then on I watched your career unfold, ignoring your steady climb up the ladder of all-time NBA greats, and instead focusing on silly things like aesthetics.
I judged you because you adjusted your jersey a lot, had shaggy hair and in general moved awkwardly on a basketball court. My irrationally harsh judgment of such frivolous things turned out to be one of my greatest mistakes as a basketball fan.
As I got older and wiser, I began to understand that the beauty of what you did on the court had been right in front of me the entire time. What I called, "awkward" turned out to be the inherent genius behind your game. You built a sterling career without the aesthetic gifts of speed, quickness or explosiveness.
Instead, you mastered an unguardable one-legged fade away jump shot that I’ve spent hours trying to replicate in a gym. What I’ve got to show for it is a couple of chronically sore ankles and a shooting percentage somewhere south of 10.
You extended your range beyond the three-point line and opened the door for a new wave of sharp-shooting seven-footers. The younger me saw your three-ball as a negative. I chose to see a seven-footer that couldn’t score inside. In actuality, it was a seven-footer that could score inside but was instead stretching out and then obliterating the defense with a three-point haymaker.
Your ability to catch and shoot from the top of the key on one possession, and then lumber back down the floor to turn some of the league’s best defenders into helpless children in the post on the next was awe-inspiring.
It wasn’t until your immaculate run to the 2011 NBA Championship that I began to truly recognize what I’d been missing. Since then, I’ve dedicated hours to falling down YouTube rabbit holes of your highlights and trying to get back the years I missed of you in your prime. I’ve taken every opportunity to tune into Dallas games to catch a glimpse of your brilliance on the court.
This apology is not for hating. I believe it was ancient Greek philosopher Socrates who said, “haters gonna hate.” Ultimately, my hating is my fault, and I’ll reconcile with myself at a later date.
I’m apologizing to you for not appreciating you. You deserve all of the shine forever and ever, not only as the best European-born player, but as one of the best to ever put on an NBA uniform.
I’ll never be able to go back and shower you with the praise you deserved for the first decade of your career, but I’m certainly going to try and make up for it from here on out, and I figured 'Dirk Week' here at TSFJ was as good a place to start as any.
I’m sorry for belittling your revolutionary game. I’m sorry for even the tiniest void my voice left in what should have been a tidal wave of praise for you in your career.
You deserve it all, Dirk. Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart.
Experiment 626. Coffee drinker and cat enthusiast. Pro-avocado. Anti-sac bunt. Habitual bat flipper. Alex Smith apologist. Yoenis Cespedes fanboy.