Mac Engel

From Kevin Hart, Mike Modano to Michael Young, all praise for Dirk; “The best athlete ever in DFW”

At the moment, all of the votes are in, and Dirk Nowitzki is the best among the Stars. Certainly the Mavericks. And the Rangers. The Dallas Cowboys, too.

Nowitzki’s retirement is fresh, so of course he is the best. Roger Staubach and Mike Modano are next to Dirk, along with Michael Young, Ivan Rodriguez, Nolan Ryan, Emmitt Smith in the debate as to who is the best to have played in town.

I asked two of those three about Dirk, along with one of the most famous NBA fans around, actor/comedian Kevin Hart.

Here are their thoughts, in their own words, on our latest GOAT.

KEVIN HART

“You are looking at a man who accomplished so much in his career. Not only accomplished so much but he played the game correctly. He was the term ‘professionalism’; he showed the younger generation of athletes what it should look like. 

“By playing the game ‘correctly,’ that means it’s always competing at the highest level. It means never, ever taking a minute to diminish the value and the understanding that goes into the ‘NBA.’ Or ‘professional athlete.’ Or ‘best players in the world.’ The way Dirk carried himself, and the way he played every night. You always saw a love for basketball in his eyes. And he’s always been labeled as one of the good guys.”

MICHAEL YOUNG

“I’m just thrilled for him. We were at dinner at the beginning of the season and he was talking about his rehab and what a grind it was. True to form, he powers through it and finishes the season off. He deserves to smell the roses. To me, he is the best athlete in DFW history. Great dude. Great family.

“And I love he’s a hoops junkie. When we hang, I can tell he just loves talking basketball. I love basketball, so it’s always a cool chat.”

MIKE MODANO

“When he was first in Dallas, he was always with Steve Nash and Steve was a big hockey fan. So Steve would drag Dirk to Stars games. And one time, when the Mavs played Vancouver (before the Grizzlies moved to Memphis), we were all there on night. We all happened to be there on the same night.

“So we all went out. Dirk is a 7-footer, and he stuck out like a sore thumb. I was thinking, ‘We are not going to be able to go anywhere with this guy because people are going to harass the (bleep) out of him.’ It was never a problem. He just blended in, because it was more of how he is as a guy. He’s a happy, go lucky dude. He’s a closet comedian.

“That’s why we got along. We both felt like we were 14 or 15 and having the time of our lives. He always understood it; the charity stuff we did together. He understood the role model part. And it was so much fun to be there with him.

“When he first got there, you didn’t know if it was going to work. He was so big, and so unorthodox in his movement and his body would convulse but then he’d release it perfectly. And then he put it all together and developed a shot no one had ever seen.”

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