The NBA made an amazing decision to name legends Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade, both future Hall of Famers, as All-Stars in their final season in the league. Both players are NBA champions and Finals MVPs and allowing them one last opportunity to shine on that stage was outstanding to watch.
Wade is among the greatest guards to ever play the game and with his three NBA championships, gets the rightful respect he deserves. Nowitzki, on the other hand, sometimes gets lost in the shuffle among the all-time great forwards.
“I think that Dirk does not get the respect [Dwyane Wade] does as an all-time great,” Kyle Kuzma said. “I think he’s probably one of the most underrated players.”
Nowitzki came up in the era where the power forward was probably the deepest position in the NBA. The likes of Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber and Rasheed Wallace made life tough for him but he was undoubtedly one of the toughest players to defend.
It did take Dirk many years to shed the label of underachiever, especially in the playoffs, but when he did he did it in a big way, as Kuzma also pointed to.
“He went to the Finals [in 2006] and then the year he beat the Heat, he beat LeBron and Wade, swept Kobe, right? And beat the Spurs. Am I correct?” Kuzma noted. “Like, that’s crazy. Nobody ever talks about it.”
One of the reasons Nowitzki isn’t talked about much is that he was a very understated player in general. Huge personalities like Kobe Bryant and Garnett are going to get talked about more than the likes of Dirk and Duncan.
But one thing Dirk has always had is the respect of his peers. Kuzma has been able to face off with Dirk in his early career and appreciates the way Nowitzki changed the game. Knowing how hard Kuzma works to improve, it wouldn’t be a shock if he tries to incorporate some of Dirk’s signature moves into his arsenal.
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