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David Aldridge:That he was the greatest shooting big in the history of the game — and the impact of that is seen every night, with stretch fours and fives now just “fours” and “fives.” Big men are now expected to be able to shoot from deep; those who stay in the post are dinosaurs, Betamaxes. Small ball and analytics surely drove the point home, but it was the Diggler that showed it was possible in the first place. Oh, one other thing: he was, and is, a righteous, woke man. Now, shut it down! Let’s go home!
Steve Aschburner: My most vivid and lasting memories of Dirk will be from the 2011 Finals victory over heavily favored Miami. Nowitzki was so cool and classy when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade mocked him to reporters, i.e., the world because they didn’t believe he was sick. Dirk & Co. just went our and forced some humility on the Heat. It was a nice equalizer for the Finals Dallas let slip away to Miami four years earlier.
Tas Melas: It’s gonna be impossible to forget about Dirk while watching the NBA ‘cause so many guys use the one-legged lean back jumper he perfected. He needs to film a music video with Fat Joe. Dirk and his shooting coach, Holger Geschwindner put in so much work together and Nowitzki’s shooting form, body positioning, and footwork are his hallmarks. For me, overcoming the 2007 season where he was named MVP and then eliminated by the “We Believe” Warriors in the first round was when he exorcised his demons.
Shaun Powell: How could it not be the wrong-legged jumper? Sure, there’s much more to Dirk’s legacy than that, including the manner in which he put the Mavericks (and Mark Cuban) on the map, how he spent his entire career with one team, his series-changing finger roll against the Miami Heat in Game 4 that helped win a championship, and being the finest European import the game has ever seen. Still, that jumper, that form …
In his career, Dirk Nowitzki has patented the one-legged fadeaway jumper.
John Schuhmann: He was nothing like we’ve ever seen before, a seven-footer with incredible touch out beyond the 3-point line. He will leave a legacy beyond the numbers and the 2011 championship, because the one-legged, turnaround fadeaway that so many players have tried to emulate will forever be known as Dirk Nowitzki’s shot. It’s unguardable, especially when he (as he so often does) gets a pick-and-roll switch onto a guard at the nail (middle of the foul line), something I’ll always call “the Dirk play.” Personally, I’ll also appreciate him for his attitude. There are some players in this league that take themselves too seriously. Dirk is definitely not one of them.
Sekou Smith: I had the good fortune of drawing Mavericks duty for their entire playoff run the year Dallas won its lone championship in 2011. I’ll always remember how Dirk showed up time after time to lead the team, doing what all of the all-time great champions tend to do during title runs. The coolest part about it was just how unassuming he and the Mavericks were during that postseason run … well, save for Shawn Marion and Jason Terry (who regularly let the media know they were the team to beat). Dirk just kept showing up, game after game, series after series, outdueling the other superstars he faced each and every time. They were on the ropes in their first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, but survived that scare. They then swept the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the conference semifinals, which was when it dawned on me that they could win it all. They finished off the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the conference finals and vanquished the Miami Heat’s Big 3 in The Finals. Being on that ride, the best of Nowitzki’s Hall of Fame career, was as fun a time as you can have. And watching an all-time great at his zenith, it doesn’t get much better than that. I had a totally different appreciation for his game after seeing that up close.
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The Starters discuss the legacy Dirk Nowitzki has left in the NBA.