Dirk Nowitzki Biography, Immigration Success Essay
Dirk Nowitzki Biography, Famous Immigrant Essay
For my immigrant project, I interviewed Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk Nowitzki is the 25 year-old superstar forward/center of the Dallas Mavericks in the National Basketball Association. In order to paint a picture of Dirk in your mind, imagine a man 12 inches taller than the average man with long blonde hair. Dirk stands at just over 7’0 tall, and 240 pounds. Some say he is the next Michael Jordan, just a half-foot taller.
Dirk Nowitzki was born in Wurzburg, Bavaria, Germany, on June 19, 1978.
Growing up with athletic parents, it was not hard for Dirk to excel in sports, particularly handball, basketball, and tennis. His mother, Helga, was a very talented basketball player herself. When basketball, rather than handball, proved Dirk‘s true passion, there was a momentary disappointment on the part of the elder Nowitzki, but it soon faded. While in his early teens, Dirk suffered a fever during which he experienced a notable “growth spurt.” He wondered about how tall he may be, so his parents took him to a doctor. The doctor informed them that Dirk would surpass approximately 6’7 by his 16th birthday. This almost certainly confirmed his fate as a basketball player. During 1993, around his 15th birthday, Dirk met his mentor, former national player Holger Geschwindner, whose unconventional, think outside-the-box approach to training enhanced Dirk‘s talent but expanded it, utilizing such other areas of learning as music, fencing, and ballet to improve his skills. Nowitzki was now a complete, well-rounded basketball player that many teams would kill to have.
Dirk graduated from the Rontgen-Gymnasium school, and then spent a mandatory year in the German Army, where he would later say he learned what it was he wanted in life. In 1998, he played in the Nike Hoop Summit, where the multi-talented player impressed NBA scouts. Dirk Nowitzki now considered the prospect of immigrating to America, to pursue his passion for basketball. He was placed in the 1998 NBA draft, so he immigrated to the United States in 1998. Dirk was drafted in first round, pick number 9 of the draft to the Milwaukee Bucks, but he was quickly traded to the Dallas Mavericks. General Manager Don Nelson predicted Dirk would be Rookie of the Year. It was not to be that simple for the young immigrant. First, the season had been postponed by a labor dispute, which delayed the beginning of the season until early 1999. Dirk struggled during this first season; he scored a mere 148 points in 18 games, for a season average of 8.2 points per game (PPG). He also was facing a strange country, the NBA “culture shock,” a new language and thousands of miles from his friends and family.
Steve Nash, a point guard acquired by Dallas in a trade with Phoenix at the same time Dirk had arrived, saw a shy, desperately homesick young man who needed a friend, and invited Dirk over to watch soccer on TV and eat some pizza. The two clicked instantly and were now best friends. Ironically, they both played the guitar and would also “jam” from time to time. This strong bond of their friendship got them through their first couple of years in Dallas, as Steve Nash had a slow start to the season. Fortunately, Dirk‘s second season was an improvement over his first, finishing with 17.5 points PPG, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Better yet, he finished second in the voting for Most-Improved-Player. Dirk improved his statistics to 21.8 points per game and 9.2 Rebounds per game in the 2000 – 2001 season, and to an impressive 23.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game during the Mavericks’ postseason. He had also placed second in the All-Star Weekend Three-Point Challenge in 2001. Dirk just kept improving himself, until he finally made the All-Star team, along with his best friend, Steve Nash in 2002. During the summer of that season, Dirk underwent surgery to remove bone spurs on his ankle, but he quickly bounced back.
Dirk Nowitzki is perhaps the next best player in the NBA. He plays the saxophone, and the guitar, a common interest with his friend, Steve Nash. Quite ironically, Dirk‘s sister works for the NBA as a newscaster. Dirk cut his hair very short in 2002, and auctioned it off, sending the profits to aid breast cancer research, a highly worthy cause. Along his journey to becoming one of the NBA‘s best young stars, he has overcome the stereotype of Europeans being to “soft” to play in the NBA. While immigrants are common in the NBA, few have achieved the status of Dirk Nowitzki, a truly successful immigrant.