Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki expected to enjoy a quiet evening at the inaugural NBA Awards Show, taking in the sights and sounds as his colleagues received awards and host Drake dished jokes. Before the show, Nowitzki said he looked forward to seeing Nicki Minaj perform. “I’m fired up,” he said.
Turns out they’d all be watching him, too.
Nowitzki was given the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, which recognizes the league’s “ideal teammate” who exemplifies “selfless play and commitment and dedication to his team.” Named after Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes, who played together in the 1950s until Stokes’ career was cut short due to a head injury, the award is voted on by players around the league. Nowitzki also finished third in voting in 2013-14. Watch his full acceptance speech below.
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The German legend edged former teammate Tyson Chandler, with 1,057 points to 1,002. Fellow former Mav Jason Terry finished fourth. Nowitzki reportedly didn’t know he would win; he just thought he’d been invited to present an award. It came as quite the surprise, then, that he’d won. “I’m pretty sure that none of my teammates voted for me,” he joked.
Certainly some of his teammates did, of course, but that was Nowitzki referencing the constant ribbing he gives his teammates. He’s known to call anyone and everyone a “burger” as some sort of insult, and he frequently talks good-natured trash with members of his own team. Harrison Barnes was a frequent victim of such clever jabs this season, as the two faced off in shooting competitions after practice almost every day.
Dirk after besting HB in a shooting drill: "NyQuil! Night night." pic.twitter.com/U4kKUOsqez
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Nowitzki also jokingly criticizes Barnes’ growing role within the offense, accusing him of “stealing” all his old isolation plays at the free throw line. The German has also been known to poke fun at J.J. Barea’s height and the weight of former teammate Zaza Pachulia’s head, and Nick Van Exel recently came out and said that, back in the day, Nowitzki would leave voicemails in verse for his teammates on the road.
Whether it’s his goodhearted fun, his relentless work ethic, or his willingness to sacrifice for the team (in terms of shots, minutes, or money), Nowitzki has proven for almost 20 seasons that he’s committed, unselfish, and dedicated, which is what this award is all about. He’s as close to the ideal teammate as one could hope to be. Ever humble, however, Nowitzki even gives credit for that to those who came before him.
“I was fortunate when I got in the league,” Nowitzki said. “I had some great teammates to show me the way, and that was Steve Nash and Michael Finley, two great, unbelievable pros that basically raised me right in this league, and I basically followed in their footsteps ever since.”
Perhaps all he is, he learned from Nash and Finley. But the rest of the league agrees that now he’s the one sharing those lessons with those around him.