Dirk Nowitzki played his entire storied career with the Dallas Mavericks. He ultimately won a single championship with the organization and established himself as arguably the greatest European player in league history in the process.
Interestingly enough, Nowitzki came closer than many realize to not spending his whole career in Dallas.
There is an alternate reality where he ends up alongside Kobe Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers.
This past week, Nowitzki opened up about how close he actually came to putting on the purple and gold.
In a conversation with Nick Friedell of ESPN, he revealed that Bryant a made hard push to get him to LA.
“I remember Kobe Bryant one year reached out to me, it was obviously an honor,” he said.
“I think this was after I won the championship and my four-year deal was done. Kobe was still doing his thing in L.A. We talked, we texted back and forth, but I told him, ‘Listen, I’m sorry and you know how it is,’ Nowitzki said. ‘Dallas is my city and my home and it would feel super weird to put a different uniform on.’”
One person who really inspired Nowitzki to take this approach was Charles Barkley.
“For me, I was prepared to live with the fact that I wasn’t going to win a title,” he continued.
Charissa Thompson on her private photo leak. https://t.co/yEDJupxou3
— Game 7 (@game7__) April 16, 2021
“One of my big idols is Charles Barkley. I loved him — that’s why actually in Europe I had No. 14 because he wore No. 14 in the Olympics in Barcelona. And I never have looked at him lesser because he didn’t win a championship. He just happened to run into Michael Jordan all the time.
“Of course that’s always in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, ‘Man, what if? What if I would have done that?’ But I’m just glad it worked out in Dallas. I really am. And I didn’t have to think about ever leaving this place.”
Based on Nowitzki’s emotional response to Bryant’s premature death, it’s easy to tell how much he wanted to play alongside him. But his bond with the Mavericks was too tight.
Would Nowitzki and Bryant together in LA have been special? No question about it. But seeing the pair square off annually was a treat for fans too. And as far as the NBA a whole is concerned, it’s probably for the best that they were split up — because the two of them together would’ve been simply too dangerous.