Dirk Nowitzki enjoyed a performance for the ages last evening for the Dallas Mavericks, leading his team with an incredible 48 point performance (while taking only 15 field goal attempts!) to help Dallas take a 1-0 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. Nowitzki was single-teamed for most of the game with six different Thunder defenders checking him through the game, and he made OKC and their head coach Scott Brooks pay for that decision by getting to the foul line over and over again, plus nailing the majority of the shots he did take.
To think that 15 years ago, he could have been a California Golden Bear.
Nowitzki was finishing up his German Second Bundesliga career at DJK Wurzburg, and was considering his next move, which could have involved a leap to the NBA or a move to college basketball to work on his game. Ben Braun, the head coach of Cal basketball at the time, might have struggled as an in-game coach, but he had an eye for recruiting good talent, and he was on Dirk very early.
Unfortunately, Dirk decided to make the leap. He was definitely ready to go, but you have to wonder what the experience would've been like if Nowitzki had joined up with the Bears. Cal probably would've done better than that NIT championship.