Dirk Reminds Us Of The Magic Of The NBA Draft

Kevin Hageland
April 09, 2019 - 6:37 pm
Dirk Nowitzki

AP Photo/LM Otero


I have a confession to make …

I love Dirk!

Wait, that’s not my real confession … my actual confession is I wanted the Dallas Mavericks to lose Tuesday night! Yes, yes, the last home game ever for Dirk Nowitzki (probably) and I wanted his team … my team, too … to lose. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted Dirk to score 50 points along the way, but I wanted the Phoenix Suns to win.

Feel free to send your hate mail to: kevin.hageland@entercom.com.

However, also please hear me out … and take a trip with me back to the magical year of 1998.

Deep Impact, There’s Something About Mary and Godzilla were ruling the box office; Sex and Candy, Save Tonight and Everybody (aka Backstreet’s Back) dominated the charts and, most importantly, on June 24 at the General Motors Place in Vancouver, the trajectory of the Mavs changed forever as they drafted Dirk! Save the nonsense about how they didn’t really draft Dirk, they selected Robert Traylor and traded with Milwaukee … no no no, that transaction only occurred because you aren’t allowed to trade draft picks beforehand – the Mavs were always drafting Dirk!

But I digress.

Think about how important that night was for the franchise.

The selection of Dirk got the Mavs to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history (and we did it twice) and our first-ever NBA Championship … take a moment, close your eyes (unless you’re driving) and bask in the glory of that series again. I love me some Steve Nash, Michael Finley, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, etc., but we all know Dirk is what got the Mavs there and allowed the Larry O’Brien Trophy to be raised.

And it all started with the draft … hence my probably anger-inducing opinion from before.

I cannot overstate the importance of the draft. In fact, here is the statistic I always use (researched it myself) to convince people of its importance: Since the 1979-80 season, there has been one NBA champion … ONE … (the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons) who didn’t have a roster where one of their best two players was drafted by them in the first round.

It’s true, the Mavs likely already have that piece in Luka Doncic, but take a closer look at the past four decades of NBA Champions and you’ll see many of them have multiple players they drafted leading the way.

Hence why I wanted Dallas to lose Tuesday night (as wins could drop their likelihood of picking in the top four and thus keep their selection by 20 percent!) and Wednesday.

Hence why I’ve wanted the Mavericks to lose consistently since the playoffs were no longer a possibility.

Some people get angry about the notion of tanking and say people rooting for that aren’t true fans. That is a preposterous notion – I love the Mavericks! I remember my little kid heart being broken when we dropped Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals to the Showtime L.A. Lakers in 1988. Rooting for tanking doesn’t mean you aren’t a fan, it means you have a bigger vision for the team.

My vision includes Dallas picking in the top five of this year’s NBA Draft (no pick for you Atlanta Hawks) and speeding up the rebuilding process.

Pair that with room for a top-notch free agent and (Dirk retirement or no) this could be a team that not only challenges for a playoff spot for the first time in four years, but one that can be hosting a playoff series to open the postseason.

Factoring in the draft and free agency, these are actual lineups the Mavs could roll out next season:

Jalen Brunson, Klay Thompson, Luka Doncic, Zion Williamson and Kristaps Porzingis

Ja Morant, Goran Dragic, Luke Doncic, Dwight Powell and Kristaps Porzingis

Jalen Brunson, Luka Doncic, RJ Barrett, Kristaps Porzingis and Nikola Vucevic

Jalen Brunson, Jarrett Culver, Khris Middleton, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis

Are you telling me you wouldn’t be excited about any of those lineups?!

I know some people say this draft is only three players deep, so if you miss out you are just wasting your time and blah blah blah … just remember these are the same naysayers who spouted out, “We drafted who? From where??” 21 years ago. So, while enjoying the majestic end (probably) of Dirk’s career … remember that a loss against the Spurs could be the last gift the big German grants this franchise, helping with the ping pong balls and kick starting the next great run for the only pro team he’s ever known!

And regardless of Wednesday night’s outcome, and No. 41’s role in it, D/FW stands in unison by saying THANK. YOU. DIRK.