From Our Archives: "Crocodile Nowitzki"

crocodilenowitzki.jpg
Not quite as good as the cover of the new Sports Illustrated, sure, but slightly better than this.
Last night I finally had the chance to read the new issue of Rolling Stone, which happens to feature a feature by former Observer-er Jesse Hyde, who decamped for his native Utah a couple of years back. The story's a good one: "America's Most Twisted Crime Family: Inside a Mormon cult's secret empire -- and the boys who dared to defy it." Right in his wheelhouse. Joe Bob says check it out.

But, funny thing. I was just reading this piece on Deadspin: "Stay Soft, Dirk Nowitzki." Luke O'Brien offers a lengthy look at the naysayers who long insisted the eventual MVP of the 2011 NBA Finals wasn't tough enough to lead his team to the Promised Land like the German Moses he's become. Loads of links and lots of stats, a thorough history-of. Then I get toward the bottom only to discover a lengthy excerpt from this November 2007 Observer cover story written by none other than Jesse Hyde.

It's about how Dirk went to the Australian Outback to find himself, to reinvent himself, to learn from and then just as quickly forget the crushing blows of the '06 Finals and the 67-win season that followed only to end with a one-and-done against Golden State. Wrote Jesse:
For the first time in his career, Nowitzki did not spend the summer retooling some aspect of his game. Instead, he went on a five-week trip to Australia to clear his head. He slept in youth hostels, he dozed on the beach reading German novels and he let his hair and beard grow long. He drifted out at sea for days. He slept in a car for a week. For Nowitzki, it was a journey of self-discovery -- similar to the traditional walkabout Aborigines take in their 16th year as a rite of passage -- a time to consider where he had been and where he was going.

Sitting there in front of the fire, with nothing but the stars of the Southern Hemisphere above him, Nowitzki's mind raced through the past several months. The 67-win season. The promise of a championship. Then finally, walking off the court at Golden State, his opponents celebrating their improbable victory as confetti fell around them.

How strange it had been, seeing his former coach, Don Nelson, on the other side of the court. Nellie, who had traded up to draft him, who had proclaimed him Rookie of the Year, who had stood by him even as Mavericks fans booed that first year, now pacing the opposing sideline, exploiting the weaknesses of his one-time protégé.

And it had worked. Somehow it had taken Nowitzki out of his game. After one loss, he threw a trash can against a wall in frustration, but when it was finally over, all he wanted to do was disappear. On the flight home, he asked a team official if he could leave Dallas as soon as possible, but after checking in with the NBA, he was told no -- he would have to stick around for another week or so. He could guess why. It was a poorly kept secret that he would win the MVP trophy.
Thanks for the memory-jog, Deadspin. Let's have a parade.

My Voice Nation Help
15 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Jean Val Jean
Jean Val Jean

How's this for calling Nowitzki soft:

"The Mavs will never win a championship as long as Dirk Nowitzki is their best player," [Jean-Jacques] Taylor wrote in his lead paragraph. "Can you say total embarrassment? Blame it on Nowitzki. Avery Johnson and Mark Cuban disagree. Too bad. It's the truth. You know it is. Like spanking your kids. It hurts."  --May 4, 2007

and"They showed, one more time, why they're labeled soft. And chokers. They've earned every one of those monikers." Taylor concluded that the Mavericks "lack coconuts . . . These are the Mavs. they collapse in the playoffs. It's what they do." --After the Mavs' game 4 loss to Portland this year.

http://unclebarky.com/dfw_file...

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

Interesting article. I like how he called out Jean-Jacques Taylor who became Dirk's #1 fan almost overnight without saying a damned thing about his earlier scathing anti-Dirk comments.

Although ... Calling Miami "The Viceroys"? Is that supposed to be some sort of insult?

LaceyB
LaceyB

Fancy as all this Mavs mania is, since it seems like a sorta slow news day, how about some for your listening pleasure, ahead of vinyl club tonight??

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Actually, Lacey, I do have something George Gimarc sent me. For later. But Friday's listening pleasure, trust me, is a can't-miss.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Wondering if a Big Bob Wilonsky / George Gimarc pairing might be heard on a radio station someday soon. Perhaps a Saturday morning fill-in?   Gawd nose that you two could spin stacks o' wax along with stories to entertain the masses.

LaceyB
LaceyB

If you come to VPS, and they both come to VPS, well, I'm sure you could kindly ask Jimmy Holcomb or Darren Robinson for the cassette tape (!) They record each session, which all "VJs" muse on music. But you'd have to fast forward to the juicy BB parts (which, doesn't make me juicy, but, to each their own).

LaceyB
LaceyB

Looking forward, with caution, as FYLP has gone country far too many times for my old ears.

Paula
Paula

There can never be *enough* classic country, Robert.

LaceyB
LaceyB

found it "by accident" while looking for that...oh yeah...that. OK, OK. I'll be completely ears open and very excited for Friday. Boots do get me v. curious.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

What -- Van Halen? Squeeze? Foghat? C'mon. And even the country's classic: Merle, Willie, Haggard. Ain't like it's Garth.

This one's the Holy Grail of locally produced in-concert boots -- and I found it yesterday, completely by accident.

Tim
Tim

Thanks for the post. A reminder to us all to keep fighting the good fight.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

and to drink whiskey straight from the bottle! In Dirk, I've always trusted.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

November 1997?

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

I changed it right after I posted it. But our quicksilver servers had yet to catch up. Should be fixed by now. Blurgh.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

No blurgh necessary.  Sometimes I wish I had an editor.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...