8/12/07

Human, All Too Human


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.



7 comments:

Anonymous said...

So he should sacrifice mental health for his employer? I think not.

Also: he is spending that time with his... BASKETBALL TRAINER. WTF do you think they do with the bulk of their time together? Walk through poor people?

Ty Keenan said...

"I decided that Dirk's introspective qualities are admirable, and I bet few NBA stars share them.... 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.... This trip might be the best thing for him in the long run."

At what point do I say he should sacrifice his mental health for his employer? If anything, I say that it's a good choice for him. The issue is that Dirk has that head to clear in the first place. All I say is that it makes him a less interesting basketball player. I admire him as a person.

If you were wandering through Australia with a friend and only backpacks, where nobody knows you save a few tourists as Ayres Rock, do you think you'd be working out in gyms the whole time? If you're only carrying a backpack, would you want to take up space with a big basketball? Wouldn't people at local basketball gyms probably know Dirk Nowitzki, the reigning MVP? Was he working on his post moves against kangaroos? The implication here is that they didn't play basketball. Yes, they probably talked about basketball a lot, but that's no substitute for running drills.

Please read the post before attacking my logic.

Jason said...

Avoiding another postseason meltdown is the best thing Dirk could do for his mental health. Working on his game, spending time with teammates, playing pickup games--all seem more relevant than that adventure down under.

Anonymous said...

Dirk Nowitzki is a tremendous gym rat. He's been doing NOTHING BUT working on his jumpshot in the gym year-round for 10 years now. He has to be locked out of the gym by the coach.

Whether this is good for his mind or not is debateable, to question his work ethic shows a lock of knowledge about him.

It's okay, I wouldn't expect a peripheral observor to know much about dirk, but it would probably be pretty easy to find out if you tried.

Ty Keenan said...

Dirk has obviously worked on his jump shot. What I'm more interested in--and I should have made this clearer--is the development of a post game, or something other than a jump shot. The most dedicated players in the league would do that. Like you say, Dirk has worked on nothing but his jumper. Durant, who's mildly similar to Dirk in that they're unusually tall wings, is 19 and already has more of a post game. I'm not saying Dirk sucks, or isn't a star, or whatever. I'm saying that he doesn't have the personality to be the leader of a championship team.

Maybe he's working on his post game right now. I'll be the first to correct myself if he proves me wrong.

Trey said...

If Dirk jumps off a bridge, I'm blaming Baron Davis.

Ben Q. Rock said...

This sort of story makes me hate Dirk a little less. It's so... cute... how he thinks this excursion will improve his game/mental state.