Childhood & Early Life
Nowitzki was born on June 19, 1978, in Würzburg, Germany, to Jörg-Werner and Helga Nowitzski. His mother was a professional basketball player, and his father was an international handball player. He has an older sister, Silke Nowitzki, who currently plays basketball.
He was a tall child and gravitated to sports early, while studying at the ‘Röntgen Gymnasium Grammar School’ in Würzburg. He initially played handball and tennis but realized basketball was a better fit. After joining a local club, he was noticed by Holger Geschwindner, a German basketball hero, who decided to coach him.
Upon his coach’s insistence, Nowitzki decided to play internationally and started training for it rigorously. In 1994, he eventually made it to the ‘DJK’ squad and played in the second-tier level when he was just 16 years old.
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Nowitzki’s career began with a bumpy start, as he had to juggle sports and studies. In his first season of the ‘Second Bundesliga’ in 1994, he scored poorly and was often benched. In the next season, in 1995, he scored well regularly and made a name for himself. In 1996, he helped his team reach the second spot in the league.
In the 1997–1998 season, he ended as the lead scorer and was named the ‘German Basketballer of the Year’ by German magazine ‘Basket.’ His squad, ‘DJK,’ too, finished at the top spot.
He gained international recognition after participating in the ‘Nike Hoop Heroes Tour’ against ‘NBA’ stars. After an impressive performance, he was chosen to play in the ‘Nike Hoop Summit.’ He outplayed many established ‘NBA’ stars. He was eventually selected by the ‘Mavericks.’
His initial matches for the ‘NBA’ turned out to be disappointing, as Nowitzki was often heckled and made fun of. Despite playing well, he scored poorly and even contemplated returning to Germany. However, he persisted and continued with the ‘Dallas Mavericks.’
In 2000, the ‘Dallas Mavericks’ were taken over by Mark Cuban, who restructured the team in a positive way. Consequently, the team’s and Nowitzki’s performance improved, and he averaged 17.5 points. He earned a number of honors and was the runner-up for the ‘NBA Most Improved Player Award.’
He became the first member of his team to be named to the ‘All-NBA’ squad. His performances with the ‘Mavericks’ boosted the team’s ranking. In the next season, he signed a $90-million contract extension, which made him one of the highest-paid German athletes. He was also voted the ‘European Basketballer of the Year’ by ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport.’
In the 2002 season, Nowitzki’s averages became higher and that helped the team rank higher. His performances were crucial to his team’s wins. His points, despite a change in position, continued to help the ‘Mavericks.’
In the 2004–2005 season, he averaged 26.1 points, a career-high score. Subsequently, he was named to the ‘All-NBA First Team.’ He improved his skills in the upcoming seasons.
In the 2006 season, Nowitzki’s averages increased dramatically, and he was named the ‘MVP’ of the league. He helped his team enter the ‘NBA Playoffs.’ However, the team did not progress much. The ‘Mavericks’ fared poorly in the next couple of seasons, too, despite his successful performance.
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In the 2009–2010 season, Nowitzki touched the 20,000-point milestone and was selected for the ‘All-Star Game.’ He chose to continue his contract with the ‘Mavericks’ by signing a $80-million deal for 4 years.
In 2011, his performances helped the ‘Mavericks’ reach a higher position. He continued playing in crucial matches despite sustaining a ligament injury and suffering from high fever. His winning points clinched the team’s first championship. He was named the ‘MVP’ of the season.
He touched the 1,000-game mark in 2011 and received his championship ring in January 2012. He surpassed many legends, such as Robert Parish and Charles Barkley, and touched 24,000 points.
His performance in the 2013 season was constantly interrupted by injuries and a subsequent surgery. However, he managed to touch 25,000 points. In April 2014, he earned the tenth spot on the all-time scoring list, with 26,712 points. The same year, he signed another contract with the ‘Mavericks,’ for $25 million. He scored over 28,000 points by 2015.
Soon, he became the sixth basketballer to touch 29,000 points and renewed his contract. In the 2016–2017 season, despite many injuries, he touched the coveted 30,000-point mark. He also decided to become a free agent and continued playing with the ‘Mavericks,’ keeping other options open.
In 2018, Nowitzki touched the 31,000-point mark and continued to increase his career total. He appeared in most of the matches and put up an impressive performance. In the 2018–2019 season, he set the ‘NBA’ record for playing the most number of seasons (21 seasons) with the same club.
Nowitzki was named to his national basketball team in 1997. He made his debut with the ‘EuroBasket’ in 1999 and was the highest-scoring player for Germany in the tournament. In 2001, he was the highest-scoring player in the ‘Eurobasket,’ despite Germany’s early loss, and was elected to the ‘All-Star’ team.
In 2002, Germany won the bronze at the ‘FIBA World Championship.’ This was his first international medal. He was the top scorer of the tournament and retained the ‘MVP’ award. However, in 2003, he performed poorly in the ‘EuroBasket’ due to a foot injury.
In 2005, Nowitzki made a comeback and pushed his team to the finals. Although the team lost to Greece, Nowitzki remained the top scorer in the series and was made the ‘MVP.’
Germany qualified for the 2008 ‘Olympics’ after Nowitzki’s dominating performance in the qualifying match. He was also chosen as the flag-bearer of the German ‘Olympic’ team during the opening ceremony. The team, however, was placed tenth in the rankings.
He skipped many international appearances and focused on his ‘NBA’ career until 2015. In 2015, he was made the captain of the German team that was to play in the ‘EuroBasket.’ However, they were eliminated early on their home turf. Nowitzki announced his retirement from the German national basketball team in January 2016.
Family & Personal Life
Nowitzki was previously in a relationship with Sybille Gerer, a fellow basketball player from ‘DJK Würzburg.’ They dated for almost 10 years but ended their relationship in 2002. However, they continue to remain good friends.
In 2010, he started dating Jessica Olsson. They got married in Dallas in July 2012. They have a daughter, Malaika, and two sons, Max and Morris.
German journalists Dino Reisner and Holger Sauer chronicled the life of Nowitzki in the book ‘Dirk Nowitzki: German Wunderkind’ in 2004. The book documented his early life, success, and rapid rise in the ‘NBA.’ It also covered other personal anecdotes from Nowitzki’s life.