PORTLAND – Terry Stotts knows of the indelible impact Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has had on the NBA for 21 years. But the Portland Trail Blazers coach shared with his listeners another aspect of Nowitzki that many may not know.
“Anybody that’s been around him, his sense of humor is great,” Stotts said before Wednesday night’s game between the Mavs and Blazers at the Moda Center. “Nobody is immune to it.
“Whether it’s making fun of somebody’s shirt or somebody’s game, or whatever it is, he’s very witty. Making comments on the bus or comments at practice.”
Stotts, who was an assistant coach/offensive coordinator with the Mavs from 2008-’12, caught a glimpse of Nowitzki’s sense of humor first-hand.
“I will say one time, it was early in my career (in Dallas), and he hadn’t touched the ball in a little while for a few possessions,” Stotts said. “And he said, ‘Hey Stotts, give me the (expletive delete) ball. So, we did.”
Stotts discussed the way some may have unintentionally taken Nowitzki’s greatness for granted.
“When you’re around a guy like Dirk or any great player, you appreciate them more when you’re around them,” Stotts said. “I remember when I was in Seattle, (assistant coach) Bob Weiss came in and he goes, ‘You know I knew Gary Payton was pretty good, but I didn’t know he was this good.’ And it’s probably the same thing with Dirk.
“When you’re around (Nowitzki) every day you appreciate him as an opponent, but what he does for your team every day, whether it’s in practice, in the locker room and certainly on the court, you see it every night in the games that you can count on him every night, it just makes the appreciation grow.”
Nowitzki passed Wilt Chamberlain this past Monday against New Orleans and became the No. 6 all-time leading scorer in NBA history. Stotts noted that it’s difficult for folks from his generation to put into words what that truly means.
“Wilt was untouchable, and for someone to be in that context is hard to fantom,” Stotts said. “I think the way (Nowitzki has) done it, being the type of player that he is, he’s certainly not the type of player that he just passed or the players that are ahead of him (on the all-time scoring list).
“He did it in his own way and in his style that I don’t think anybody could have foreseen 20 years ago.”