Dallas Mavericks: How Will Dirk Nowitzki’s Success Change Image of Euro Imports?
Dallas Mavericks Are First NBA Champions Led By Non-U.S. Star
It’s been nearly 20 years since the late Drazen Petrovic became the first European import named to an All-NBA roster. In the years since, the predominant perception of the European player in the U.S. has been that of a role-player, a gangly, sharp-shooting forward who doesn’t do the dirty work in the paint like American players do.
Dirk Nowitzki, for much of his career, looked a lot like that stereotype. He’s a little stronger, a little better on the glass, and doesn’t (these days) take quite as many threes, but the German star has a lot in common with the negative image of Europeans as a group in the NBA.
Nowitzki’s heroics will likely change part of the equation, but not all. He’s proven that a team can be built around a European player just as viably as picking a Derrick Rose or a Tim Duncan from the college ranks and building around them.
However, because Nowitzki’s playing style hews so close to the assumed European norm—he is, after all, a seven-footer who averaged just seven rebounds a game this season—his success alone isn’t likely to cause a redefinition (or elimination) of the European stereotype.
One player who might is likely to land with a lottery team in this year’s draft. Czech forward Jan Vesely is a tall, skinny, white European, but gets most of his points on rim-shaking dunks and runs the floor more like a guard than a forward.
Nowitzki has proven that a European player can carry an NBA champion. Vesely may continue the harder process of proving that teams don’t need to distinguish between European and American players.
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