Dirk Nowitzki is in the final year or two of his career, so we have likely forgotten how it all began when he came to Texas in 1998. We likely have forgotten that the Mavs had to convince Dirk he could play in the NBA, and that leaving Germany was the right career move.
Before he came to the NBA, he told a German TV station that, “I am not good enough.” This was not in reference to joining the NBA, but just to play college ball in America.
Dirk is as private as they come, but for this film he gave producers an all-access pass to all of it — home videos, family, friends, the good, the bad and the truly unfortunate. The one hour and 45 minute film is a fascinating march through his career and will leave you liking a man that was already about as well-liked as a pro athlete can be. The film shows just how sweet, and small-town Dirk is, and how he remains so rooted in simplicity.
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For the film, Dirk’s father, mother, sister, wife, friends contributed candid commentary about The Big German. Among those interviewed were former Mavs head coach Don Nelson, current GM Donnie Nelson as well current head coach Rick Carlisle, team owner Mark Cuban, former teammates Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and current NBA star Kobe Bryant.
The only noticeable absentee was former Mavs head coach Avery Johnson, who was in charge when Dirk reached his first NBA Finals in 2006, and won the NBA MVP award the next season. It has been widely speculated that Dirk had a lot to do with Avery being fired, so maybe the new Alabama coach didn’t want to help when the interviews were conducted. Or maybe Dirk didn’t want him in the movie.
The first portion of the film focuses on Dirk’s upbringing in Germany, and specifically his relationship with his long-time personal coach, Holger Geschwindner. In this portion it almost looks as if the entire film will be about Holger’s unique methods of training and coaching basketball, but the movie eventually ventures beyond the man who is called “the mad scientist of basketball.”
Much of the film was in Germany, and many of the interviews are in German with English subtitles.
The film shows how simple, and decent, Dirk’s upbringing was. When he goes home, says his father, he still has to ask his mother for gas money.
The movie follows the chronology of Dirk’s career, and covers it all, including his first engagement to a woman who later turned out to be a wanted felon. That alone could have been a film. The relationship devastated Nowitzki, but he eventually got over it and managed to win an NBA title and establish himself as the greatest foreign-born player in NBA history.
Near the end of the movie, which finishes with the Mavs winning the NBA title in 2011, even Nowitzki is amazed at the trajectory of his career, and his life. He recognizes it as being quite fortunate because, as he says, he’s simply very good at putting a ball through a hoop because “I’m 9 feet tall.”
In all, it’s a nice, sweet movie about a nice, sweet guy that will go down as one of the most beloved pro athletes in the history of North Texas.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760