Dirk Nowitzki: Steve Nash overcame ‘being white’

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Dirk Nowitzki talks about his retiring former teammate Steve Nash, saying he had to overcome being “white and unathletic”

Steve Nash finally decided to retire this week, after struggling with back injuries for several years. Nash has been celebrated all around the league, with players such as Stephen Curry paying tribute to the all-time great point guard.

One such person was Dirk Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks power forward and Nash’s teammate from 1999-2004. Nowitzki went on the ESPN NBA Insiders podcast and had this to say about his former teammate:

So that’s a little odd. I guess Dirk meant it as a compliment to Nash’s perseverance. Still, I don’t think I would refer to such a talented basketball player as “unathletic.” Athletic is sort of in the job description, especially for a point guard known for running a run-and-gun offense.

What’s funny is that Dirk says it in such a nonchalant way, like it’s a given that one of the greatest point guards in history would be slow and unathletic. That’s the humor of Dirk though, and it’s something that makes him special.

Nowitzki added that to him, Nash’s retirement wasn’t much of a surprise; he thought it would have happened a few months ago, when Nash was declared out for the season.

Unfortunately their peaks never coincided, or we could have seen a truly great team in Dallas (and Nash could have won that elusive championship). As it is, Nash will retire as one of the better players to never win a championship, joining the likes of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton. The Suns of 2004 through 2006 will go down as one of the greatest what-ifs in NBA history. They looked like the best team in the league each of those years, but it wasn’t enough in the playoffs, and they never even made the Finals. Meanwhile, Nash’s old team in Dallas made the Finals in 2006 and won it all in 2011.

Nowitzki and Nash’s peaks never lined up, and Mark Cuban said that one of his biggest regrets is not re-signing Nash in 2004. Nash went on to great success in Phoenix with Mike D’Antoni, but it’s possible that teaming up with Dirk could have brought him a championship.

Then again, Nowitzki was originally drafted by the Bucks, so we could play the what-if game all day with these two.

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