Throughout his career, Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki has been cheered on by a loyal fan base.
“It was easy for me to be loyal to this team, to this city [and] to the fans because they’ve supported me throughout all these years,” he says. “Every time I got subbed in, they gave me a standing ovation. They wanted me to succeed here.”
The seven-foot-tall power forward and center holds many franchise records, including career points, free throws, rebounds and three-point field goals, as well as points in a single game.
Since 2001, Nowitzki has led his team with 50-plus wins and annual trips to the playoffs, including in the 2005-2006 season — the Mavericks’ first trip to the NBA Finals — when they won the Western Conference Championship. In 2011, the Mavericks beat Miami Heat to win the NBA Championship.
“I’ll never forget the parade when we had over 250,000 people in the streets. That was amazing,” says Nowitzki, recalling what a great team they had that year.
When the Germany native came to Dallas in 1998, he wasn’t sure what to expect. But quickly, things fell into place.
“It felt like home. I started to get more comfortable,” he says. “I started to get used to the culture and the new language.”
He says NBA players play their best when they’re comfortable, which explains why he’s playing so well. His nickname is “The Dunking Deutschman.”
Nowitzki, who’s married with three children, plans to finish his career with the Mavericks.
“For me, [loyalty] was always staying here — staying in Dallas,” he says. He went on to explain that loyalty is about giving it everything you have. “Trying to make it work and trying to bring a championship to Dallas” is a big part of that for him.
Nowitzki says Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has always supported him on and off the court.
“Loyalty was shown to me when I first got here,” he says. “How fans supported me, how Mark supported me.”
Nowitzki is happy to pay back all that kindness with his own loyalty.
“The most rewarding thing is making it work,” says the 13-time All-NBA Team member.
Through his Dirk Nowitzki Foundation, the athlete hosts charity events including a celebrity tennis (his first love in sports) classic tournament and a heroes baseball game. The money goes to children’s charities through annual grants to organizations focused on children’s well-being, health and education.
“Paying your community back and having relationships in the community are amazing even after your career,” he says.