bookmark_borderThe Great Nowitzki

After Showboat by Roland Lazenby, The Great Nowitzki is the second book on this blog that I have read in my native language, German, rather than English. With the biography about Kobe, I had criticized this version somewhat, as the translation was poor in some places. There was no such problem here, as the author Thomas Pletzinger is German, just like Dirk Nowitzki, so I read the book in the original. I assume that the American translators know more about basketball and that the English translation is therefore just as good as the original.

The Great Nowitzki

It’s clear from the title and the paragraph above what this book is about. It’s about none other than Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki. However, The Great Nowitzki is not a typical biography, even if it does briefly cover Dirk’s childhood and youth. The focus here is on his NBA career. And on three points in particular: The playoffs and NBA finals in 2011, the game in which he completed the 30000 points and his last home game against Phoenix as well as his last NBA game ever in San Antonio.

Author Thomas Pletzinger used to be a basketball player himself and was not unsuccessful in his youth. He never made it as a professional, though. But his love of basketball remained. He then became a journalist and author. So he can write and understands basketball. Pletzinger also briefly inserts his own story and dreams as a basketball player at some points. I’ve read one or two reviews that criticized this. Personally, I had no problem with that at all. Quite the opposite. It conveys very well to the reader that the topic is very important to the author. In my opinion, this love of the sport came across very well in this book.

Pletzinger was originally supposed to write an article about Nowitzki for a magazine. This then developed into the idea for a book. Over the years, Pletzinger repeatedly spent time in Dallas and with Nowitzki (and also with Nowitzki’s coach, mentor and friend Holger Geschwindner). If you watch the clips of Dirk’s 30000 point game, you can recognize the author in the stands. He is bald and sits next to Geschwindner and Donnie Nelson.

The main purpose of this book was to answer the question of what Nowitzki means to the Mavericks and the city of Dallas. This has been achieved very well. His importance to the franchise and the city can hardly be overstated. There is an anecdote told here about when Dirk went to watch a Dallas Cowboys game. He drove into the parking lot and asked an employee where there were still free parking spaces. He replied “In this city, you can park everywhere, son”.

Otherwise, as I said, it’s mostly about the championship, the 30,000 points and the last two games in the NBA. It’s great for Mavericks and Dirk fans to relive those times in their mind’s eye. But I’m sure other NBA fans will also like this book because it’s really well written.

Although it’s one of my favorite basketball books, I didn’t include it in my list of Top 10 NBA books. Even though such a list is of course never objective, I am not neutral about this book. Dirk Nowitzki is my favorite player of all time, so naturally there is some emotion involved. But even if it doesn’t appear on this list, I can only recommend it.

Get The Great Nowitzki at Amazon