After the Warriors' upset of the Mavs last spring, commentators all over the internet, print, and television media claimed that Dirk Nowitzki had a lot of soul-searching to do. Well, it seems like he took that advice to heart. NBA.com's Johannes Berendt reports:
"We [Dirk and longtime coach Holger Geschwindner] toured five weeks through Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti. With a rucksack. That was about the only place in the world where nobody would recognize me and I could move somewhat freely," Nowitzki stated. "At Ayers Rock a few tourists noticed me but the trip was just right to clean my mind."
Down under, the Dallas Mavericks star was looking for answers.
"I have been exploring the sense of life. I haven't entirely found it yet but I will keep looking," he said with a smile.
Yes, Dirk spent five weeks on a life-considering backpacking trip through Oceania. Once I got over the hilarity of imagining Dirk on his form of an Australian walkabout, I decided that Dirk's introspective qualities are admirable, and I bet few NBA stars share them. However, this story also points to why he doesn't seem cut out for leading a team to a championship.It's possible that this trip will clear Dirk's head enough that he achieves some kind of zen relationship with the Larry O'Brien Trophy, but history has shown us that the most successful basketball players have had an unnatural obsession with doing everything possible to win. Namely, they spend the entire offseason working on their jumpers and shoring up their weaknesses.
To a certain extent, Dirk is doing just that: the article mentions that he's been working with Geschwindner quite intensely over the last few weeks. Of course, it also says that he's living at home, getting "the full-service treat from [his] mother," who irons his shirts, does his laundry, and tells him when to get haircuts. Call me crazy, but that doesn't seem like the best way to improve one's toughness. Can you imagine Kobe doing the same thing?
I can't blame Dirk for wanting to go to Australia to clear his head. The trip actually sounds pretty cool, and he sounds fairly down-to-earth about the whole thing. I'd actually probably like him as a person. Unfortunately, his personality is exactly the kind of thing that makes him a frustrating basketball player; Dirk would rather get his mind right instead of learning some post moves. This trip might be the best thing for him in the long run, but I'm almost sure next spring we'll all see the same picture we did this playoffs: a confused, upset Dirk, wondering where everything went wrong.