It was a long, long time ago and Toronto coach Nick Nurse wasn’t sure where it was. He thought it was Portland. But in reality, it was San Antonio.
It was the Nike Hoop Summit that served as the launching pad for Dirk Nowitzki’s introduction to the American basketball movers and shakers.
Every team in the NBA had scouts at that game. And Nowitzki was far and away the best player on the court with 33 points and 14 rebounds.
Nurse, in his first season as the Raptors’ head coach, was scouting in those days. He remembers that first glimpse of Nowitzki quite well.
“Well, I obviously am a lot like everybody, I love Dirk, right,” Nurse said before the Raptors and Mavericks played Sunday. “His breakout Hoop Summit, I was at the game and it just was like a frenzy of like wow, who is this guy?
“I think of that almost all the time when I see him. Even I was watching film of him today, I’m thinking back of where I was sitting and who I was with and when the game ended, how everybody was just like, whoa.”
Years later, he remembered what it was like seeing Nowitzki in his prime.
“I was coaching in the USBL, it’s not in existence anymore, but I was coaching in Enid, Oklahoma, (in 2006). The Mavs were playing in the playoffs, I was driving down here quite a bit for games and watching when he was really, really unbelievable, really amazing when he was standing there on one leg at the free throw line, fading back and making all those shots and stuff like that.
“When I think about him it brings a smile to my face really because some cool memories for me personally from seeing him live when he was younger.”