Dirk Nowitzki is a legend of the game – his big break came because of a young tech billionaire Mark Cuban.
Before 1998, the number of players selected from outside of the United States was steady, but not many big names came in. A few notable names like Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon and Manute Bol came through, but not enough. The first ever non-American to be drafted was Swen Nater from the Netherlands in 1973.
But things took a turn for the better in the year 1998. The first-round pick Michael Olowokandi was also a foreigner, but the focus was all on a scrawny kid from Germany. Dirk Nowitzki was more sought after because Charles Barkley thought he was a better player. Dirk was initially drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks but was then traded to the Mavericks.
The young Billionaire owner Mark Cuban was dead set on bringing in his marquee signing and immediately made shrewd moves to pair him with another foreigner, Steve Nash. The two formed an immense pair, playing together for 6 years and forging a formidable partnership.
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Dirk Nowitzki paved the way for more foreign-born players in the league – a few big names loved across the league are European
While the league drafted players from outside the nation, they did not do extensive scouting. But the evidence in the form of Steve Nash and Dirk could not be ignored. A lot more research started going into finding the next gem. The league now has many players who got their break, because of this one move.
Players like Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo have the Germanator to thank for the opportunities they have. The last four MVPs have been won by foreign nationals, both of them being back-to-back. It’s crazy to think that the duopoly can easily continue, or be broken by another foreigner, Joel Embiid.
Mark Cuban is honestly a revolutionary, and one of the best owners a team could ask for. He’s been so hands-on with every move and step that Dallas makes while making sure they move forward. James Dolan can learn a thing or two from him. He’s got an L for his middle name, and an L for a franchise.
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