DALLAS – Though Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki was not the first European player to succeed in the NBA, none before or since have reached his level of accomplishments that helped spread the word about the potential of players in Europe. That had not gone unnoticed by a former European player. But Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who began his career in the NBA but took off while playing in Italy, said Nowitzki’s contributions go beyond being a trend setter.
“He was one of the first, not the first; there were other guys before him that changed it,” D’Antoni said before Monday’s game against the Rockets, expected to be Nowitzki’s last in Houston. “Dirk, what I like about him, he’s an ambassador all the time. He plays every summer for the German National Team for years. He loves to play. You can see that. He’s witty. He’s funny. He’s one of the best players ever.
“So, whatever he’s done to help basketball around the world, he’s been a standard-bearer for a long time. It’s great. He’s had an unbelievable career.”
With Rockets rookie Isaiah Hartenstein called up from the G League on Monday, there were nearly as many members of the German National team – Hartenstein, Nowitzki and Maxi Kleber – as USA Basketball senior national team players, James Harden, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and Kenneth Faried.
Source:: Daily times