Dirk Nowitzki Agrees: Auburn Could Have Boosted Success
Dirk Nowitzki Agrees: Auburn...
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Dirk Nowitzki Agrees: Auburn Could Have Boosted Success

6 May 2024
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2 min.
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Dirk Nowitzki Agrees: Auburn Could Have Boosted Success

Barkley's Missed Recruit

Hall of Famers Dirk Nowitzki and Charles Barkley shared a delightful moment during the NBA on TNT tip-off show on Saturday night, where Dirk served as a guest commentator.

The two reminisced about their first encounter, recalling how Barkley had tried to recruit Nowitzki to play college basketball at his alma mater, Auburn. However, Dirk declined the offer and opted to join the NBA directly from the German leagues. This decision would later establish Nowitzki as the greatest international player in NBA history.

"I think so," Dirk replied when Chuck asked him if he might have been more successful had he gone to Auburn. "But it worked out well. I went straight from the army, which you didn't believe at the time… That's a true story."

Their initial meeting occurred during a Nike Hoop Heroes exhibition game in 1997, where a young 18-year-old Dirk caught Barkley's attention by dropping an impressive 52 points on Scottie Pippen and the opposing U.S. team. Barkley vividly recalled approaching Dirk after the game, expressing interest in recruiting him for Auburn.

"And I said, 'Yo man, who the hell are you?'" Barkley recounted during a recent appearance on Club ShayShay. "And he got that thick German (accent) 'My name is Dirk Nowitzki. I'm 18.' I said '18. Do you want to go to Auburn? I say, 'Just name your price, we're good.' He's like, 'What?' I said, 'I want you to come to my college.' I told the Nike guys, 'Hey, get his information.' They called me back a week later. But then he said something, he says 'I've got to go to the army.'"

Indeed, Dirk fulfilled mandatory military service for the Bundeswehr starting in September 1997, despite Barkley's initial skepticism. The following year, Dirk declared for the NBA Draft, concluding his military duty shortly after being selected 9th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. Notably, the Bucks then traded his draft rights to the Dallas Mavericks for the No. 6 pick, Robert Traylor — a move Barkley dubbed one of the worst trades in NBA history.

It remains a topic of intrigue how Nowitzki might have fared with collegiate experience. He himself speculates he could have been even better. Regardless, Dirk's journey to NBA greatness stands as one of the most remarkable tales in basketball history.

Persons4 and Companies2 in the news

American professional basketball player
1 place
American former professional basketball player
2 place
American former professional basketball player
3 place
German former professional basketball player
4 place
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