The Whiteboard: Dirk Nowitzki staying in Dallas is more than simple loyalty

Dirk Nowitzki staying with the Dallas Mavericks is more complicated than just Dirk being a loyal guy.

Dirk Nowitzki staying with the Dallas Mavericks for (almost certainly) his whole career is an awesome story, there’s no doubt about it. That was the overwhelming response when Dirk signed his latest one-year deal with the Mavs on Monday.

I don’t want to take anything away from Dirk here. He’s a legitimate NBA legend and it clearly matters to him that part of his legacy involves never leaving Dallas. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that–NBA players should get to work where they want, just like the rest of us.

However, just because Dirk stayed put in Dallas does not mean he’s inherently better, as a person or as a player, than anyone who might have switched teams. As always, the situation is more complicated than that.

The Mavericks have spent just about all of Dirk’s career doing their damn best at forming competitive teams built around him in the attempt to win a championship. In 2011 they were famously successful, toppling a super-powered Miami Heat team en route to both Dirk and Dallas’ only title.

For Dirk, that is enough reason to stay with the Mavericks forever. He was never a player who seemed to care much about celebrity or about getting the biggest contract ever. He enjoyed being in Dallas, with a franchise that venerates him and legitimately tried to win for most of his time there.

Not all situations are as friendly to their star players, with owners angrily sending heated emails over minor incidents of disrespect, as Dallas has been for Dirk. Not every franchise is as successful as the Mavericks were for most of his time there. And not all stars are built like Dirk, to be sure.

Not wanting to stay grounded in one city for two decades doesn’t make any other player a bad person, nor does wanting to get to a better basketball situation, nor do any of the other myriad reasons NBA players have for making decisions.

It feels good that Dirk is still a Maverick, but that doesn’t cheapen the career of anybody else who might not have been able to start their career with a franchise that fit perfectly.

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