Dirk Nowitzki

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Posted by r2d2 04/27/2009 @ 08:07

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DJ Mbenga 1, Dirk Nowitzki 0 - Dallas Observer
By Richie Whitt in Dallas Mavericks While former Mavericks DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell hugged and kissed the NBA's Larry O'Brien championship trophy, current Maverick Dirk Nowitzki is left with remorse about hugging and kissing Cristal Taylor....
Hearing set for woman arrested at Nowitzki's home - USA Today
BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) — A woman arrested last month at NBA star Dirk Nowitzki's Dallas home has a July 27 hearing on her theft arrest. Crystal Taylor was arrested on May 6 at Nowitzki's home. The 37-year-old defendant was indicted in September 2006 on a...
Dirk's lawyer doubts Taylor is pregnant - ESPN
By Marc Stein After Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki boarded a flight home to Germany on Thursday afternoon, his Dallas-based attorney expressed strong doubt that the woman arrested earlier this month at Nowitzki's house is pregnant....
Cristal Taylor, Dirk Nowitzki's ex-fiancee, is pregnant - Chicago Sun-Times
By Kyle Koster on May 27, 2009 11:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) The bizarre situation surrounding Dallas Mavericks big man Dirk Nowitzki continues to get more fantastic. Records obtained by the Dallas Morning News show Cristal...
SLAMonline Mock Draft: Austin Daye, No. 22 - SLAM Online
Today, people still hate on Dirk Nowitzki; not arguably, but certifiably one of the world's best basketball players. This year, the Dallas Mavericks have found someone who makes us think strongly of the player that we have built our last decade of...
Is Nowitzki's ex reformed, or is this just a con? - Dallas Morning News
By BRAD TOWNSEND / The Dallas Morning News BEAUMONT – Even in jail, with her life in shambles and her hopes of marrying Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki apparently vaporized, Cristal Taylor exudes smarts and charisma. Her mother says that as a child,...
Nowitzki's father questions Taylor's motives - Dallas Morning News
Jörg Nowitzki, father of Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, questioned the motives of his son's ex-fiancee, Cristal Taylor, in a recent interview with the German newspaper Bunte. "What comes over daily from America from this woman is almost like...
Offseason Overview: Dallas Mavericks - RotoTimes.com
Dirk Nowitzki turns 31 this June, and the Mavericks are well over the cap? Does Mark Cuban's club have another run in them? Cap situation: $68.8 million committed to nine players. League salary cap estimated at $58 million for 2009-2010 season....
Kobe, Lakers finish ascent - Dallas Morning News
And, of course, who could overlook the headline that former Mavericks DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell will get rings before Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd. And while the plots were unfolding, you had to wonder what lebron James was thinking....
Cuban says he'd put advertising on jerseys; clarifies K-Mart story - SI.com
Cuban had some interesting comments on Dirk Nowitzki and the scandal with his ex-girlfriend. "In my opinion this lady was a con artist and Dirk was the victim," Cuban said. Cuban said he was happy to take the bullet for Dirk and let the media focus on...

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki 2.jpg

Dirk Werner Nowitzki (pronounced ) (born June 19, 1978) is a German professional basketball player who plays for the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association. An alumnus of Röntgen Gymnasium Grammar School and DJK Würzburg basketball club, Nowitzki was drafted ninth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1998 NBA Draft, and was immediately traded to the Mavericks, where he has played ever since. Standing at 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m), Nowitzki plays the power forward position, but is also capable of playing other frontcourt positions like center or small forward.

Nowitzki is an eight-time NBA All-Star and eight-time member of the All-NBA Teams, and is the first European-born player in NBA history to receive the NBA Most Valuable Player award. He is the first Maverick ever to be voted into an All-NBA Team and also holds several all-time Mavericks franchise records. He led the German national basketball team to a bronze medal in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and the silver medal in EuroBasket 2005, and was leading scorer and elected Most Valuable Player in both tournaments. Regarded as one of the best European players in basketball history, Nowitzki was named the Euroscar European Basketball Player of the Year by the Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport for five years in a row, the Mister Europa European Player of the Year by the Italian sports magazine Superbasket in 2005, and the FIBA Europe Basketball Player of the Year the same year.

Born in Würzburg, Germany, Dirk Werner Nowitzki comes from an athletic family: his mother Helga was a professional basketball player and his father Jörg-Werner was a handball player who represented Germany at the highest international level. His older sister Silke, a local champion in track and field, also became a basketball player and now works for the NBA in International TV. Dirk was a very tall child; most of the time he dwarfed his peers by a foot or more. He initially played handball and tennis, but soon grew tired of being called a "freak" for his height and eventually turned to basketball. After joining the local DJK Würzburg, the 15-year-old attracted the attention of former German international basketball player Holger Geschwindner, who spotted his talent immediately and offered to coach him individually two to three times per week. After getting both the approval of Nowitzki and his parents, Geschwindner put his pupil through an unorthodox training scheme: he emphasized shooting and passing exercises, and shunned weight training and tactical drills, because he felt it was "unnecessary friction". Furthermore, Geschwindner encouraged Nowitzki to play a musical instrument and read literature to make him a more complete personality.

After a year, the coach was so impressed that he said to his pupil: "You must now decide whether you want to play against the best in the world or just stay a local hero in Germany. If you choose latter, we will stop training immediately, because nobody can prevent that anymore. But if you want to play against the best, we have to train on a daily basis." After pondering for two days, Nowitzki decided on the former. Geschwindner let him train seven days a week with DJK Würzburg players and future German internationals Robert Garrett, Marvin Willoughby and Demond Greene, and in the summer of 1994, the 16-year-old Nowitzki made the DJK squad.

When Nowitzki joined the team, DJK played in the Second Bundesliga, South Division. His first trainer was Pit Stahl, who played the tall teenager as an outside-scoring forward rather than an inside-scoring center to utilise his shooting skills. In the 1994–95 Second Bundesliga season, ambitious DJK finished as a disappointing sixth of 12 teams; the rookie Nowitzki was often benched and struggled with bad school grades, which forced him to study rather than work on his game. In the next 1995–96 Second Bundesliga season, Nowitzki established himself as a starter next to Finnish star forward Martti Kuisma and soon became a regular double-digit scorer: after German national basketball coach Dirk Bauermann saw him score 24 points in a DJK game, he stated that "Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest German basketball talent of the last 10, maybe 15 years". DJK finished second in the South Division, but could not earn promotion after losing 86–62 in the deciding match versus BG Ludwigsburg: in that game, Nowitzki scored only eight points.

In the 1996–97 Second Bundesliga season, the team's top scorer Kuisma left the team, and Holger Geschwindner replaced Pit Stahl as head coach. Filling Kuisma's void, Nowitzki averaged 19.4 points per game and led DJK again to second place after the regular season, but could not help his team gain promotion. In the following 1997–98 Second Bundesliga season, Nowitzki finished his "Abitur" (German A-levels), but had to do his compulsory military service in the Bundeswehr (German Military) which lasted from September 1, 1997 to June 30, 1998; Nowitzki described this period as "a tough time at first, we had no privileges and had to participate in all the drills… later it was much more relaxed". Concerning basketball, the 19-year old, who had grown to 6 ft 11 in (2.1 m) tall, forward flourished further, leading DJK to a 36:4 point total (in Germany, a victory gives 2:0 points and a loss 0:2) and ending as leading scorer with 28.2 points per game. In the promotion playoffs, DJK finally broke its bane, finishing at first place with 14:2 points and earning promotion; Nowitzki scored 26 points in the deciding 95–88 win against Freiburg and was voted "German Basketballer of the Year" by the German BASKET magazine.

Abroad, Nowitzki's progress did not go unnoticed. In 1996, FC Barcelona Bàsquet wanted to sign him, but Nowitzki refused to move before finishing his German A-levels. A year later, the teenager participated in the Nike "Hoop Heroes Tour", where he played against NBA stars like Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen. In a 30-minute show match, Nowitzki outplayed Barkley and even dunked on him, causing the latter to exclaim: "The boy is a genius. If he wants to enter the NBA, he can call me." On March 29, 1998, Nowitzki was chosen to play in the Nike Hoop Summit, one of the premier talent watches in U.S. men's basketball. In a match between the U.S. talents and the international talents, Nowitzki scored 33 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 14 rebounds and 3 steals for the internationals and outplayed future US NBA stars Rashard Lewis and Al Harrington. He impressed with an array of quickness, ball handling, and shooting range, and from that moment on a multitude of European and NBA clubs wanted to recruit him.

After leading DJK Würzburg to promotion and his A-levels and military service behind him, Nowitzki looked to the NBA for his future. Projected to be seventh pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, he passed up many college offers and leapt directly into the NBA as a then still rare prep-to-pro player. In particular Rick Pitino and Don Nelson, head coaches of the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks respectively, were highly interested in acquiring him. After a 45-minute private workout with Pitino, where Nowitzki showcased his versatile shooting, rebounding and passing skills, the Boston coach immediately compared him to Celtics legend Larry Bird; Pitino assured Nowitzki that he would draft him with the Celtics' first-round draft pick at number ten.

However, Pitino's plan was foiled by Nelson, whose team had the sixth pick. Nelson worked out draft day deals with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns: the Mavericks wanted Nowitzki and Suns reserve point guard Steve Nash; the Bucks desired muscular forward Robert Traylor, who was projected to be drafted before Nowitzki; and the Suns had set their sights on forward Pat Garrity, who was projected as a low first round pick. In the draft, the Mavericks drafted Traylor with their sixth pick, and the Bucks selected Nowitzki with their ninth and Garrity with their nineteenth pick. The Mavericks then traded Traylor to the Bucks for Nowitzki and Garrity, and they in return traded the latter to Phoenix for Nash.

In retrospect, Don Nelson had an outstanding trade instinct, essentially trading future career underachievers Traylor and Garrity for two future NBA MVPs, Nowitzki and Nash; in addition, both new recruits became best friends. Nowitzki became only the fourth German player in NBA history, following pivots Uwe Blab and Christian Welp and All-Star swingman Detlef Schrempf, who was a 35-year old veteran player of the Portland Trail Blazers when his young compatriot arrived. Nowitzki finished his DJK career as the only Würzburg player to have ever made the jump into the NBA.

In Dallas, Nowitzki joined a franchise which had last made the playoffs in 1990. Shooting guard Michael Finley captained the squad, supported by 7-foot-6 center Shawn Bradley, once a number two draft pick, and team scoring leader Cedric Ceballos, an ex-Laker forward. Nowitzki experienced a rocky start: prior to the 1998–99 NBA season, NBA commissioner David Stern wanted to introduce a salary cap, causing the NBA players' union to declare a strike, the combination putting the entire season in jeopardy. In limbo, Nowitzki returned to DJK Würzburg and played thirteen games before both sides worked out a late compromise that resulted in a shortened 1998-1999 schedule of only 50 instead of 82 regular season games.

When the season finally started, Nowitzki struggled. Played as a power forward by coach Don Nelson, the lanky 20-year old felt overpowered by the more athletic NBA forwards, was intimidated by the expectations as a number nine pick, and played bad defense, causing hecklers to taunt him as "Irk Nowitzki", omitting the "D" which stands for "defense" in basketball slang. He only averaged 8.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 20.4 minutes of playing time. Looking back, Nowitzki said: "I was so frustrated I even contemplated going back to Germany… was like jumping out of an airplane hoping the parachute would somehow open." The Mavericks only won 19 of their 50 games and missed the playoffs, although Nowitzki completed the season with eight double-digit scoring games out of the last twelve.

In the 1999–2000 NBA season, Don Nelson wanted to use Nowitzki as a point forward to make use of his passing skills. One of the most important moves was made outside the hardwood: until then, the owner of the Mavericks was Ross Perot, Jr., who had bought the franchise for $125 million, but had no plans of investing in players and admitted he knew little of basketball. On January 4, 2000, he sold the Mavericks to Internet billionaire Mark Cuban for $280 million. Cuban quickly invested into the Mavericks and restructured the franchise, attending every game at the sidelines, buying the team a $46 million six-star Boeing 757 for traveling, and increasing franchise revenues to over $100 million. Nowitzki lauded Cuban: "He created the perfect environment… we only have to go out and win." As a result of Nelson's tutelage, Cuban's improvements and his own progress, Nowitzki significantly improved his averages. The sophomore now scored 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in 35.8 minutes, had nine double-double games, and scored a career-high 32 points twice. He was voted runner-up in the NBA Most Improved Player Award behind Jalen Rose, and made it into the NBA All-Star Sophomore squad along with peers Paul Pierce and Vince Carter. In the traditional Rookie-Sophomore match, he scored 17 points, six rebounds and four assists in an overtime loss against the rookie team led by Steve Francis and Lamar Odom. The seven foot tall Nowitzki also was chosen for the NBA All-Star Three Point Shootout, becoming the tallest player ever to participate. After draining 15 three point shots in a row in the first shootout, he entered the final round, where he only was beaten by Jeff Hornacek. While he improved on an individual level, the Mavericks missed the playoffs after a mediocre 40–42 season.

In the following 2000–01 NBA season, Nowitzki further improved his averages, recording 21.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Now playing the power forward position, he became the second player in NBA history after Robert Horry to score 100 three-pointers and 100 blocks in the regular season, registering respectively 151 and 101 of them. As a sign of his growing importance, he joined team captain Finley as only one of two Mavericks to play and start in all 82 games and had 10 games in which he scored at least 30 points. Nowitzki became the first Maverick ever to be voted into the All-NBA squads, making the Third Team. In addition, his best friend Nash became a valuable point guard, and with Finley scoring more than ever, pundits were calling this trio the "Big Three" of the Mavericks.

Prior to the 2001–02 NBA season, Nowitzki signed a six-year, $90 million contract extension, which made him the second highest paid German athlete after Formula One champion Michael Schumacher. He continued to improve, now averaging 23.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, was voted into the All-NBA Second Team and into his first All-Star Game. He also had 13 games with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds, third behind Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan. Powered by new recruit Nick Van Exel, who became a high-scoring sixth man, the Mavericks "Big Three" convincingly made the playoffs with a 57–25 record.

The Mavericks swept Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2002 NBA Playoffs 3–0: Nowitzki outscored Garnett with 33.3 points per game versus 24.0. In the second round, the Mavericks met the Sacramento Kings with rival power forward Chris Webber. After splitting the first two games, Kings coach Rick Adelman changed his defensive scheme: before, Webber had defended Nowitzki one-on-one, but now, the Kings coach ordered his smaller but quicker player Hedo Turkoglu to cover the German. Turkoglu should use his agility to play Nowitzki tightly, and if the taller Maverick tried to post up Turkoglu, Webber should double team Nowitzki. In Game 3 in Dallas, the Mavericks lost 119–125; Nowitzki scored only 19 points and said: "I simply could not pass Turkoglu, and if I did, I ran into a double team and committed too many turnovers." In Game 4, more frustration awaited the German: the Mavericks gave away a 14-point lead, although the entire Kings starting frontcourt of center Vlade Divac and power forward Chris Webber (both fouled out) and small forward Peja Stojakovic (injury) was eliminated in the closing stages of the game. Nowitzki missed two potentially game deciding jump shots, and the Mavericks lost 113–115 at home. In Game 5, the demoralised Texans were no match for the spirited Kings, lost 101–114 and were eliminated again. Among others, nba.com remarked that the Kings defended better than the Mavericks: in those five games, the statisticians counted 115 Sacramento layups against the Mavericks, meaning the Kings averaged 23 uncontested baskets (i.e. 46 easy points) per game. However, Nowitzki received a consolation award: the Gazzetta dello Sport voted him as "European Basketballer of the Year", his 104 votes lifting him over second-placed Dejan Bodiroga (54) and Stojakovic (50).

In the Western Conference Finals, the Mavericks met the San Antonio Spurs of Tim Duncan again. In Game 1 in San Antonio, Nowitzki scored 38 points on Duncan and led his team to a 113–110 win. In Game 2, Duncan quickly put Nowitzki in foul trouble, and the Spurs equalised the series with a 132–110 win. In Game 3, fate struck as Nowitzki went up for a rebound and Spurs guard Manu Ginóbili collided with his knee, forcing him out of the series: without their top scorer, the Mavericks still fought valiantly and trailed 2–3, before Spurs guard Steve Kerr nailed a buzzer beater in Game 6 to end the series. Don Nelson later commented: "We were playing so well for so long and the bottom just dropped out... We went cold at the wrong time." Nowitzki only took little consolation in the fact that he again was voted "European Basketballer of the Year" and was named "Best European Basketballer" in a general survey of the NBA general managers.

In the 2003–04 NBA season, Mark Cuban and Don Nelson decided to add more offensive wing players to their squad. As a result, the Mavericks acquired two All-Star forwards, namely Golden State Warriors All-Star forward Antawn Jamison (for role players Danny Fortson, Jiri Welsch and Chris Mills) and Antoine Walker (Boston Celtics) who came for center Raef LaFrentz. Basketball experts were wary about latter trade, because it sent away the Mavericks starting center; they argued it left a hole in the middle that the aging, injury-prone backup pivot Shawn Bradley could not fill anymore. Unable to trade for a new center, Don Nelson decided to start the prolific rebounder Nowitzki at pivot, put Walker on Nowitzki's usual power forward spot and played Jamison as a high-scoring sixth man. To cope with his more physical role, Nowitzki put on 20 lb (9.1 kg) of muscle mass over summer, sacrificed part of his agility, and put more emphasis on defense rather than scoring: as a result, his averages fell for the first time in his career, dropping to 21.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, but he was still the Mavericks leader in scoring, rebounding, steals (1.2 spg) and blocks (1.35 bpg). These figures earned him nominations for the All-Star game and the All-NBA Third Team. Compiling a 52–30 record, the Mavericks met their familiar rivals Sacramento Kings again, but were eliminated in just five games.

Before the 2004–05 NBA season, the Mavericks were re-tooled again. Defensive center Erick Dampier was acquired from the Golden State Warriors, but Nowitzki's close friend Steve Nash left Dallas and returned to the Phoenix Suns as a free agent. During the season, long-time head coach Don Nelson resigned, and his assistant Avery Johnson took on coaching duties. In the midst of these changes, Nowitzki stepped up his game and averaged 26.1 points a game, a career-high, 9.7 rebounds, and his 1.5 blocks and 3.1 assists were also career numbers. In addition, Nowitzki scored at least 10 points in every game and was only one of four players who registered at least 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. This was also his second 2,000 point season, his 26.1 points scoring average set a new record by a European player, and was the highest by a white player since Tom Chambers knocked in 27.2 per game in 1989-90. On December 2, 2004, Nowitzki scored 53 points in an overtime win against the Houston Rockets, a career best. As a reward, Nowitzki was voted to the All-NBA First Team for the first time. He also placed third in the league's MVP voting, behind Nash and Shaquille O'Neal. By being elected to the All-NBA First Team, Nowitzki became the first player who did not attend a United States high school or college to be on the All-NBA First Team.

However, the Mavericks had a subpar 2005 NBA Playoffs campaign. In the first round, Dallas met the Houston Rockets of scoring champion Tracy McGrady and 7-6 center Yao Ming, and Nowitzki was expected to average high figures against unheralded forward Ryan Bowen: nba.com described Bowen as "overmatched" versus the German. Instead, Bowen limited Nowitzki to just 21 points in Game 1 and 26 points in Game 2, where the latter only hit 8 of 26 shots from the field. The Rockets took a 2–0 lead before the Mavericks won three games in a row. After losing Game 6, Dallas won Game 7 convincingly and won the series even though Nowitzki struggled with his shooting. In the Western Conference Semifinals, the Mavericks met the Phoenix Suns, the new club of Nash. They split the first four games, before the Suns won the last two games. In Game 6, which the Mavericks lost in overtime, Nowitzki was again not at his best: he scored 28 points, but also sank only 9 of his 25 field goal attempts; in addition, he was visibly irritated, repeatedly shouting at his team mates and missing all his five shots in overtime.

Prior to the 2005–06 NBA season, veteran Mavericks captain Michael Finley was waived over the summer, and now Nowitzki was the last player remaining from the Mavericks' "Big Three" of Nash, Finley, and himself. Nowitzki blossomed as the sole franchise player, averaging 26.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. Not only was this his third 2,000 point season, but his scoring average of 26.6 points was highest ever by a European, and the highest by a white player since the 27.2 average of Tom Chambers again in 1989-90. He improved his shooting percentage, setting personal season records in field goals (48.0%), three-point shots (40.6%) and free throws (90.1%). During the 2006 All-Star Weekend in Houston, Nowitzki scored 18 points to defeat Seattle SuperSonics guard Ray Allen and Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas in the Three-Point Shootout contest.

The Mavericks advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they would again meet Nash and the Phoenix Suns. Nowitzki scored 50 points to lead the Mavericks to a victory in the crucial Game 5 with the series tied 2–2; the Mavericks would go on to win in six games and face the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals. A content Nowitzki commented: "We've been a good road team all season long, we believed in each other. We went through some ups and downs this season, but the playoffs is all about showing heart and playing together." Of Nowitzki's performance, ESPN columnist Bill Simmons would remark, "Dirk is playing at a higher level than any forward since Bird." The Mavericks took an early 2–0 lead, but then gave away a late 15-point lead in a Game 3 loss and finally fell to a scoring onslaught by Heat Finals MVP Dwyane Wade: Wade scored at least 36 points in the next four games, which the Heat all won. Nowitzki only made 20 of his last 55 shots in the final 3 games as the Mavericks lost the Finals series 4–2 to the Heat. The German was criticised by ESPN as "clearly... not as his best this series" and remarked: "That was a tough loss (in Game 3) and that really changed the whole momentum of the series... After that, they got confidence. They played a lot better afterwards".

The 2006–07 NBA season was to be the one Nowitzki would be named the league's Most Valuable Player. He recorded averages of 24.6 points on .502 shooting, 8.9 rebounds and a career-high 3.4 assists and led the Mavericks to a franchise-high 67 wins, which meant Dallas earned the first seed of the 2007 NBA Playoffs. Nowitzki was touted as the overwhelming favorite for the Most Valuable Player award, and was expected to lead the Mavericks to an easy win against the eighth seed Golden State Warriors. However, the Mavericks ended up losing to the Warriors in six games, marking the first time a #8 seed has beaten the #1 in a best of seven series in NBA history. In the clinching Game 6, Nowitzki shot just 2–13 from the field for only eight points. Defended by Stephen Jackson, Nowitzki averaged nearly five points less than his regular season average in that series and shot only 38.3% from the field as compared to 50.2% during the regular season. He described this loss as a low point in his career: "This series, I couldn't put my stamp on it the way I wanted to. That's why I'm very disappointed." In spite of this historic playoffs loss, Nowitzki was named the NBA's regular season Most Valuable Player and beat his friend and back-to-back NBA MVP Nash with more than 100 votes. He also became the first European-born player in NBA history to receive the honor.

The 2007–08 campaign saw another first-round playoffs exit for Nowitzki and his Mavericks. Despite a mid-season blockbuster trade that sent veteran NBA All-Star Jason Kidd to Dallas, the Mavericks could only finish seventh in a highly competitive Western Conference. In the playoffs, they faced rising starlet Chris Paul's New Orleans Hornets, and were eliminated in five games. The only positive highlights that season for the German were that he notched his first career triple-double against the Milwaukee Bucks February 6, 2008, finishing with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and a career-high 12 assists; then, on March 8, 2008, with 34 points, he surpassed Rolando Blackman with his 16,644th point to become the all-time points leader for the Mavericks.

Nowitzki has been playing for the German national basketball team since the 1999 FIBA European championships. In his debut tournament, the 21-year old rookie established himself as the main German scorer, but could not prevent that Germany only ended seventh and failed to qualify for the 2000 Olympic Games. In the 2001 FIBA European Championships, Nowitzki was top scorer with 28.7 points per game, and narrowly lost the MVP vote to Serbian player Peja Stojaković. Germany reached the semi-finals and were close to beating host nation Turkey, but down by three, Hedo Turkoglu hit a three-point buzzer beater, and the Turks eventually won in overtime. Germany then lost 90–99 against Spain, and did not win a medal. However, with averages of 28.7 points and 9.1 rebounds, Nowitzki led the tournament in both statistics, and was voted to the All-Star team. Back home, the German basketball team attracted up to 3.7 million television viewers, a record in German basketball history.

Nowitzki finally earned his first medal when he led Germany to a bronze medal in the 2002 World Championships. In the quarter-finals against the Pau Gasol-led Spain, Spain led 52–46 after three quarters, but then Nowitzki scored 10 points in the last quarter and led Germany to a 70–62 win. In the semi-finals, his team played against the Argentinian squad of 2000 Olympic Games MVP Manu Ginóbili, but despite leading 74–69 four minutes from the end and despite Argentina losing Ginobili to a foot injury, the South Americans won 86–80. However, the Germans won 117–94 against New Zealand in the consolation finals and won bronze, and tournament top scorer Nowitzki (24.0 ppg) was elected MVP. In Germany, now over four million television viewers followed the games.

The 2003 FIBA European Championships proved to be a major disappointment for Nowitzki and his German squad. In a preparation game, he suffered a foot injury after a collision with French player Florent Pietrus; as a result, Nowitzki played inconsistently and was also often target of hard fouls. In the decisive second round match against Italy (only the winner was allowed to play the medal round), Germany lost 86–84, finished ninth and did not qualify for the 2004 Olympic Games. Nowitzki scored 22.5 points per game (third overall), but in general seemed to lack focus and dominance due to his injury.

In the 2007 FIBA European Championships, in which the top three teams automatically qualified for the 2008 Olympics, Nowitzki led Germany to a fifth place. He was the leading scorer with 24.0 points per game. The fifth place meant that Germany fell short of direct qualification, but was allowed to participate in the 2008 Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Nowitzki led Germany into a decisive match against Puerto Rico for the last remaining slot. In that crucial match, he scored a game-high 32 points and was vital for the 96–82 win which sent the German basketball team to their first Olympics since the 1992 Summer Olympics. Nowitzki was chosen to be the flag bearer for the German Olympic Team at the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Olympics.

Nowitzki is a versatile frontcourt player who mostly plays the power forward position, but has also played center, small forward and point forward throughout his career. With career averages of over 20 points and nearly 9 rebounds, he is a constant double-double threat. Nowitzki is considered one of the best shooters in the game, hitting over 87% of his free throws, connecting on almost 50% of his field goal attempts and on almost 40% of his three-point shots, and is also winner of the 2006 NBA All-Star Three-Point Shootout competition. His shooting accuracy, combined with his tall seven-foot frame, makes him a tough defensive assignment, because he can shoot over most players.

NBA.com lauds his versatility by stating: "The 7–0 forward who at times mans the pivot can strike fear in an opponent when he corrals a rebound and leads the break or prepares to launch a three-point bomb." One of the forward's main problems remains defense, where he averages just over one block per game and never made an All-Defense Team. However, in a 2005 ESPN article, Nowitzki was voted the tenth best power forward of all time and was lauded for his "revolutionary" outside shooting skills.

Nowitzki's career has also been rewarded with an array of awards. He has made the All-Star team and the All-NBA Team eight times. He was voted NBA Most Valuable Player of the 2006–07 NBA season and became the first European-born player to achieve this milestone. Other achievements include winning the 2006 NBA All-Star Three Point Shootout, being voted "European Basketballer of the Year" five times in a row by Gazzetta dello Sport, and becoming leading scorer and elected Most Valuable Player in the 2002 FIBA World Championships and 2005 FIBA European Championships. Nowitzki is the Dallas Mavericks' all-time leader in points, rebounds, field goals, field goal attempts, 3-pointers, 3-point attempts, free throws, and free-throw attempts. Plus, he is also considered one of the game's premier clutch performers, hitting several game-winning shots in his career.

Nowitzki's older sister, Silke, described Nowitzki, four years her junior, as a confident, but low-key character who is unspoilt by money and fame. He also enjoys reading and playing the saxophone. Nowitzki passed his Abitur examination at Röntgen Gymnasium Grammar School of Würzburg. He also founded the "Dirk Nowitzki Foundation", a charity which aims at fighting poverty in Africa.

Nowitzki's career has been the subject of the book Dirk Nowitzki - german wunderkind by German sports journalists Dino Reisner and Holger Sauer. It appeared in 2004 at the CoPress Munich publishing house under the ISBN 3-7679-0872-7. The 160-page hardcover book follows Nowitzki's beginnings in his native Würzburg and documents his entry and ascent in the NBA, and ends at the beginning of the 2004–05 NBA season.

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Dirk Nowitzki - german wunderkind

Dirk Nowitzki - german wunderkind is a biography of the German NBA basketball star Dirk Nowitzki, written by German sports journalists Dino Reisner and Holger Sauer. It was published in 2004 by the German "Copress" publishing house. It follows Nowitzki's life as a boy in Würzburg, how he turned to basketball as a teenager, broke through in Germany and eventually became the franchise player of the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA.

In this book, Reisner and Sauer follow the career of Dirk Nowitzki, beginning with his middle-class beginnings in Würzburg. Originally interested in tennis and handball, the tall Nowitzki (who grew to become 7-foot-0) was drawn to basketball after being repeatedly taunted as a "freak" by his opponents. After being discovered by local basketball trainer Jürgen Meng, he met trainer Holger Geschwinder, who became his lifelong mentor and friend. Both discovered he had a natural talent for this sport and eventually became a star for the small local basketball club DJK Würzburg.

After attracting the attention of Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson, Nowitzki made the jump to the NBA and was drafted by the Bucks, but was immediately traded to the Mavericks in the 1998 NBA Draft. Shell-shocked by the culture shock, facing a longer season, more physical opponents, and a relatively foreign culture, he struggled in America, and even considered returning to Europe, until Nelson and Geschwinder talked him out of it. Becoming a regular player, a starter, and later an All-Star, the book presents the eventful playoff campaigns of the Mavericks until 2004. The book ends in the middle of the 2004-05 NBA season.

The book mostly follows a chronological structure, and devotes inserts for many people close to Nowitzki, such as his parents Helga and Jörg-Werner Nowitzki, who are both retired German professional handball players; his sister, Silke; his ex-girlfriend of seven years Sybille Gerer (former player of Nowitzki's former basketball club DJK Würzburg), his discoverer Jürgen Meng, his mentors Geschwinder and Nelson, and his best friend Steve Nash. An extra section of the book is inserted at the end, which deals with his performances in the Germany national basketball team separately.

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Basketball

The first basketball court: Springfield College.

Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five active players each try to score points against one another by placing a ball through a 10 feet (3.048 m) high hoop (the goal) under organized rules. Basketball is one of the most popular and widely viewed sports in the world.

Points are scored by throwing (shooting) the ball through the basket above; the team with more points at the end of the game wins. The ball can be advanced on the court by bouncing it (dribbling) or passing it between teammates. Disruptive physical contact (foul) is not permitted and there are restrictions on how the ball can be handled (violations).

Through time, basketball has developed to involve common techniques of shooting, passing and dribbling, as well as players' positions, and offensive and defensive structures. Typically, the tallest members of a team will play center or one of two forward positions, while shorter players or those who possess the best ball handling skills and speed, play the guard positions. While competitive basketball is carefully regulated, numerous variations of basketball have developed for casual play. In some countries, basketball is also a popular spectator sport.

While competitive basketball is primarily an indoor sport, played on a basketball court, less regulated variations have become exceedingly popular as an outdoor sport among both inner city and rural groups.

In early December 1891, Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian physical education professor from McGill University of Montréal and instructor at YMCA Training School (today, Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, sought a vigorous indoor game to keep his students occupied and at proper levels of fitness during the long New England winters. After rejecting other ideas as either too rough or poorly suited to walled-in gymnasiums, he wrote the basic rules and nailed a peach basket onto a 10-foot (3.05 m) elevated track. In contrast with modern basketball nets, this peach basket retained its bottom, and balls had to be retrieved manually after each "basket" or point scored; this proved inefficient, however, so a hole was drilled into the bottom of the basket, allowing the balls to be poked out with a long dowel each time. The peach baskets were used until 1906 when they were finally replaced by metal hoops with backboards. A further change was soon made, so the ball merely passed through, paving the way for the game we know today. A soccer ball was used to shoot goals. Whenever a person got the ball in the basket, his team would gain a point. Whichever team got the most points won the game. The baskets were originally nailed to the mezzanine balcony of the playing court, but this proved impractical when spectators on the balcony began to interfere with shots. The backboard was introduced to prevent this interference; it had the additional effect of allowing rebound shots. Naismith's handwritten diaries, discovered by his granddaughter in early 2006, indicate that he was nervous about the new game he had invented, which incorporated rules from a children's game called "Duck on a Rock", as many had failed before it. Naismith called the new game "Basket Ball".

The first official game was played in the YMCA gymnasium on January 20, 1892 with nine players. The game ended at 1-0; the shot was made from 25 feet (7.6 m), on a court just half the size of a present-day Streetball or National Basketball Association (NBA) court. By 1897–1898 teams of five became standard.

Women's basketball began in 1892 at Smith College when Senda Berenson, a physical education teacher, modified Naismith's rules for women. Shortly after she was hired at Smith, she went to Naismith to learn more about the game. Fascinated by the new sport and the values it could teach, she organized the first women’s collegiate basketball game on March 21, 1893, when her Smith freshmen and sophomores played against one another. Her rules were first published in 1899 and two years later Berenson became the editor of A.G. Spalding’s first Women's Basketball Guide, which further spread her version of basketball for women.

Basketball's early adherents were dispatched to YMCAs throughout the United States, and it quickly spread through the USA and Canada. By 1895, it was well established at several women's high schools. While the YMCA was responsible for initially developing and spreading the game, within a decade it discouraged the new sport, as rough play and rowdy crowds began to detract from the YMCA's primary mission. However, other amateur sports clubs, colleges, and professional clubs quickly filled the void. In the years before World War I, the Amateur Athletic Union and the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (forerunner of the NCAA) vied for control over the rules for the game. The first pro league, the National Basketball League, was formed in 1898 to protect players from exploitation and to promote a less rough game. This league only lasted five years.

By the 1950s, basketball had become a major college sport, thus paving the way for a growth of interest in professional basketball. In 1959, a basketball hall of fame was founded in Springfield, Massachusetts, site of the first game. Its rosters include the names of great players, coaches, referees and people who have contributed significantly to the development of the game.

Basketball was originally played with a soccer ball. The first balls made specifically for basketball were brown, and it was only in the late 1950s that Tony Hinkle, searching for a ball that would be more visible to players and spectators alike, introduced the orange ball that is now in common use. Dribbling was not part of the original game except for the "bounce pass" to teammates. Passing the ball was the primary means of ball movement. Dribbling was eventually introduced but limited by the asymmetric shape of early balls. Dribbling only became a major part of the game around the 1950s, as manufacturing improved the ball shape.

Basketball, netball, dodgeball, volleyball, and lacrosse are the only ball games which have been identified as being invented by North Americans. Other ball games, such as baseball and Canadian football, have Commonwealth of Nations, European, Asian or African connections. Although there is no direct evidence as yet that the idea of basketball came from the ancient Mesoamerican ballgame, knowledge of that game had been available for at least 50 years prior to Naismith's creation, in the writings of John Lloyd Stephens and Alexander von Humboldt. Stephens' works especially, which included drawings by Frederick Catherwood, were available at most educational institutions in the 19th century and also had wide popular circulation.

Dr. James Naismith was instrumental in establishing college basketball. He coached at the University of Kansas for six years, before handing the reins to renowned coach Forrest "Phog" Allen. Naismith's disciple Amos Alonzo Stagg brought basketball to the University of Chicago, while Adolph Rupp, a student of Naismith's at Kansas, enjoyed great success as coach at the University of Kentucky.

On February 9, 1895, the first intercollegiate 5-on-5 game was played at Hamline University between Hamline and the School of Agriculture, which was affiliated with University of Minnesota. The School of Agriculture won in a 9-3 game.

In 1901, colleges, including the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, the University of Minnesota, the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Utah and Yale University began sponsoring men's games. By 1910, frequent injuries on the basketball courts prompted President Theodore Roosevelt to suggest that college basketball form a governing body, resulting in the creation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS). In 1910, that body would change its name to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

In 1892, the University of California and Miss Head's School played the first women's interinstitutional game. Berenson's freshmen played the sophomore class in the first women's intercollegiate basketball game at Smith College, March 21, 1893. The same year, Mount Holyoke and Sophie Newcomb College (coached by Clara Gregory Baer) women began playing basketball. By 1895, the game had spread to colleges across the country, including Wellesley, Vassar, and Bryn Mawr. The first intercollegiate women's game was on April 4, 1896. Stanford women played Berkeley, 9-on-9, ending in a 2-1 Stanford victory.

Women's basketball development was more structured than that for men in the early years. In 1905, the National Women's Basketball Committee's Executive Committee on Basket Ball Rules was created by the American Physical Education Association. These rules called for six to nine players per team and 11 officials. The International Women's Sports Federation (1924) included a women's basketball competition. 37 women's high school varsity basketball or state tournaments were held by 1925. And in 1926, the Amateur Athletic Union backed the first national women's basketball championship, complete with men's rules.

The Edmonton Grads, a touring Canadian women's team based in Edmonton, Alberta, operated between 1915 and 1940. The Grads toured all over North America, and were exceptionally successful. They posted a record of 522 wins and only 20 losses over that span, as they met any team which wanted to challenge them, funding their tours from gate receipts. The Grads also shone on several exhibition trips to Europe, and won four consecutive exhibition Olympics tournaments, in 1924, 1928, 1932, and 1936; however, women's basketball was not an official Olympic sport until 1976. The Grads' players were unpaid, and had to remain single. The Grads' style focused on team play, without overly emphasizing skills of individual players.

The first women's AAU All-America team was chosen in 1929. Women's industrial leagues sprang up throughout the United States, producing famous athletes, including Babe Didrikson of the Golden Cyclones, and the All-American Red Heads Team, which competed against men's teams, using men's rules. By 1938, the women's national championship changed from a three-court game to two-court game with six players per team.

The first Canadian interuniversity basketball game was played at the YMCA in Kingston, Ontario on February 6, 1904, when McGill University visited Queen's University. McGill won 9-7 in overtime; the score was 7-7 at the end of regulation play, and a ten-minute overtime period settled the outcome. A good turnout of spectators watched the game.

Teams abounded throughout the 1920s. There were hundreds of men's professional basketball teams in towns and cities all over the United States, and little organization of the professional game. Players jumped from team to team and teams played in armories and smoky dance halls. Leagues came and went. Barnstorming squads such as the Original Celtics and two all-African American teams, the New York Renaissance Five ("Rens") and (still in existence as of 2009) the Harlem Globetrotters played up to two hundred games a year on their national tours.

The first men's national championship tournament, the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball tournament, which still exists as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) tournament, was organized in 1937. The first national championship for NCAA teams, the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in New York, was organized in 1938; the NCAA national tournament would begin one year later.

College basketball was rocked by gambling scandals from 1948 to 1951, when dozens of players from top teams were implicated in match fixing and point shaving. Partially spurred by an association with cheating, the NIT lost support to the NCAA tournament.

Before widespread school district consolidation, most United States high schools were far smaller than their present day counterparts. During the first decades of the 20th century, basketball quickly became the ideal interscholastic sport due to its modest equipment and personnel requirements. In the days before widespread television coverage of professional and college sports, the popularity of high school basketball was unrivaled in many parts of America. Perhaps the most legendary of high school teams was Indiana's Franklin Wonder Five, which took the nation by storm during the 1920s, dominating Indiana basketball and earning national recognition.

Today virtually every high school in the United States fields a basketball team in varsity competition. Basketball's popularity remains high, both in rural areas where they carry the identification of the entire community, as well as at some larger schools known for their basketball teams where many players go on to participate at higher levels of competition after graduation. In the 2003–04 season, 1,002,797 boys and girls represented their schools in interscholastic basketball competition, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. The states of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky are particularly well known for their residents' devotion to high school basketball, commonly called Hoosier Hysteria in Indiana; the critically acclaimed film Hoosiers shows high school basketball's depth of meaning to these rural communities.

In 1946, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) was formed, organizing the top professional teams and leading to greater popularity of the professional game. The first game was played in Toronto, Ontario, Canada between the Toronto Huskies and New York Knickerbockers on November 1, 1946. Three seasons later, in 1949, the BAA became the National Basketball Association (NBA). An upstart organization, the American Basketball Association, emerged in 1967 and briefly threatened the NBA's dominance until the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. Today the NBA is the top professional basketball league in the world in terms of popularity, salaries, talent, and level of competition.

The NBA has featured many famous players, including George Mikan, the first dominating "big man"; ball-handling wizard Bob Cousy and defensive genius Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics; Wilt Chamberlain, who originally played for the barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters; all-around stars Oscar Robertson and Jerry West; more recent big men Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone; playmaker John Stockton; crowd-pleasing forward Julius Erving; European stars Dirk Nowitzki and Drazen Petrovic and the three players who many credit with ushering the professional game to its highest level of popularity: Larry Bird, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, and Michael Jordan.

In 2001, the NBA formed a developmental league, the NBDL. As of 2008, the league has sixteen teams.

Basketball teams make up approximately 13 percent of franchised sports in the U.S, and an average of 17,558 spectators regularly attend basketball games in the NBA, with the Chicago Bulls (22,103), Detroit Pistons (22,076) and Cleveland Cavaliers (20,499) topping the popularity stakes. The combined revenue from the 30 NBA teams is approximately $3.37 billion and rising.

The NBA-backed Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) began in 1997. Though it had shaky attendance figures, several marquee players (Lisa Leslie, Diana Taurasi, and Candace Parker among others) have helped the league's popularity and level of competition. Other professional women's basketball leagues in the United States, such as the American Basketball League (1996-1998), have folded in part because of the popularity of the WNBA.

The WNBA has been looked at by many as a niche league. However, the league has recently taken steps forward.

The WNBA gets more viewers on national television broadcasts (413,000) than both the MLS (253,000) and the NHL (310,732) which is a good sign for the growth of the league.

The Philippine Basketball Association is the second oldest professional league in the world. The first game was played on April 9, 1975 at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City. Philippines. It was founded as a "rebellion" of several teams from the now-defunct Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association which was tightly controlled by the Basketball Association of the Philippines (now defunct), the then-FIBA recognized national association. Nine teams from the MICAA participated in the league's first season that opened in April 9, 1975.

The Philippine Basketball Association features several famous basketball players like current superstars Gary David, James Yap, Mark Caguioa, Willie Miller, Kelly Williams, Cyrus Baguio and many others. Former PBA Superstar features Allan Caidic, Benjie Paras, Robert Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Francis Arnaiz, Atoy Co, Bogs Adornado, Philip Cezar, Alvin Patrimonio, Jojo Lastimosa, and many others.

Men's Basketball was first included in the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936, although a demonstration tournament was held in 1904. The United States defeated Canada in the first final, played outdoors. This competition has usually been dominated by the United States, whose team has won all but three titles, the first loss in a controversial final game in Munich in 1972 against the Soviet Union. In 1950 the first FIBA World Championship for men was held in Argentina. Three years later, the first FIBA World Championship for Women was held in Chile. Women's basketball was added to the Olympics in 1976, which were held in Montreal, Canada with teams such as the Soviet Union, Brazil and Australia rivaling the American squads.

FIBA dropped the distinction between amateur and professional players in 1989, and in 1992, professional players played for the first time in the Olympic Games. The United States' dominance continued with the introduction of their Dream Team. However, with developing programs elsewhere, other national teams started to beat the United States. A team made entirely of NBA players finished sixth in the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis, behind Yugoslavia, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand and Spain. In the 2004 Athens Olympics, the United States suffered its first Olympic loss while using professional players, falling to Puerto Rico (in a 19-point loss) and Lithuania in group games, and being eliminated in the semifinals by Argentina. It eventually won the bronze medal defeating Lithuania, finishing behind Argentina and Italy.

Even in the 90's, many non-American players made their names in the NBA, such as Croats Dražen Petrović and Toni Kukoč, Serb Vlade Divac, Lithuanians Arvydas Sabonis and Šarūnas Marčiulionis and German Detlef Schrempf.

The all-tournament teams at the two most recent FIBA World Championships, held in 2002 in Indianapolis and 2006 in Japan, demonstrate the globalization of the game equally dramatically. Only one member of either team was American, namely Carmelo Anthony in 2006. The 2002 team featured Nowitzki, Ginobili, Yao, Peja Stojakovic of Yugoslavia (now of Serbia), and Pero Cameron of New Zealand. Ginobili also made the 2006 team; the other members were Anthony, Gasol, his Spanish teammate Jorge Garbajosa and Theodoros Papaloukas of Greece. The only players on either team to never have joined the NBA are Cameron and Papaloukas. The strength of international Basketball is evident in the fact that the last three FIBA world championships were won (in order) by Serbia (Yugoslavia in 1998) and Spain.

Measurements and time limits discussed in this section often vary among tournaments and organizations; international and NBA rules are used in this section.

The object of the game is to outscore one's opponents by throwing the ball through the opponents' basket from above while preventing the opponents from doing so on their own. An attempt to score in this way is called a shot. A successful shot is worth two points, or three points if it is taken from beyond the three-point arc which is 6.25 metres (Template:Convert/) from the basket in international games and 23 feet 9 inches (7.2 m) in NBA games.

Games are played in four quarters of 10 (international) or 12 minutes (NBA). College games use two 20-minute halves while most high school games use eight minute quarters. Fifteen minutes are allowed for a half-time break, and two minutes are allowed at the other breaks. Overtime periods are five minutes long. Teams exchange baskets for the second half. The time allowed is actual playing time; the clock is stopped while the play is not active. Therefore, games generally take much longer to complete than the allotted game time, typically about two hours.

Five players from each team (out of a twelve player roster) may be on the court at one time. Substitutions are unlimited but can only be done when play is stopped. Teams also have a coach, who oversees the development and strategies of the team, and other team personnel such as assistant coaches, managers, statisticians, doctors and trainers.

For both men's and women's teams, a standard uniform consists of a pair of shorts and a jersey with a clearly visible number, unique within the team, printed on both the front and back. Players wear high-top sneakers that provide extra ankle support. Typically, team names, players' names and, outside of North America, sponsors are printed on the uniforms.

A limited number of time-outs, clock stoppages requested by a coach for a short meeting with the players, are allowed. They generally last no longer than one minute unless, for televised games, a commercial break is needed.

The game is controlled by the officials consisting of the referee ("crew chief" in men's college and the NBA), one or two umpires ("referees" in men's college and the NBA) and the table officials. For college, the NBA, and many high schools, there are a total of three referees on the court. The table officials are responsible for keeping track of each teams scoring, timekeeping, individual and team fouls, player substitutions, team possession arrow, and the shot clock.

The only essential equipment in basketball is the basketball and the court: a flat, rectangular surface with baskets at opposite ends. Competitive levels require the use of more equipment such as clocks, scoresheets, scoreboard(s), alternating possession arrows, and whistle-operated stop-clock systems.

A regulation basketball court in international games is 28 by 15 meters (approx. 92 by 49 ft) and in the NBA is 94 by 50 feet (29 by 15 m). Most courts are made of wood. A steel basket with net and backboard hang over each end of the court. At almost all levels of competition, the top of the rim is exactly 10 feet (3.05 m) above the court and 4 feet (1.2 m) inside the baseline. While variation is possible in the dimensions of the court and backboard, it is considered important for the basket to be of the correct height; a rim that is off by but a few inches can have an adverse effect on shooting.

There are also regulations on the size a basketball should be. If women are playing, the official basketball size is 28.5" in circumference (size 6) and a weight of 20 oz. For men, the official ball is 29.5" in circumference (size 7) and weighs 22 oz.

The ball may be advanced toward the basket by being shot, passed between players, thrown, tapped, rolled or dribbled (bouncing the ball while running).

The ball must stay within the court; the last team to touch the ball before it travels out of bounds forfeits possession. The ball is out of bounds if touches or crosses over a boundary line, or touches a player who is out of bounds. This is contrast to other sports such as football (soccer), volleyball, and tennis (but not rugby or American football) where the ball (or player) is still considered in if any part of it is touching a boundary line.

The ball-handler may not move both feet without dribbling, known as traveling, nor may he dribble with both hands or catch the ball in between dribbles, a violation called double dribbling. A player's hand cannot be under the ball while dribbling; doing so is known as carrying the ball. A team, once having established ball control in the front half of the court, may not return the ball to the backcourt. The ball may not be kicked nor struck with the fist. A violation of these rules results in loss of possession, or, if committed by the defense, a reset of the shot clock.

There are limits imposed on the time taken before progressing the ball past halfway (8 seconds in international and NBA; 10 seconds in NCAA and high school), before attempting a shot (24 seconds in the NBA, 30 seconds in NCAA women's and Canadian Interuniversity Sport play for both sexes, and 35 seconds in NCAA men's play), holding the ball while closely guarded (5 seconds), and remaining in the restricted area (the lane, or "key") (3 seconds). These rules are designed to promote more offense.

No player may interfere with the basket or ball on its downward flight to the basket, or while it is on the rim (or, in the NBA, while it is directly above the basket), a violation known as goaltending. If a defensive player goaltends, the attempted shot is considered to have been successful. If a teammate of the shooter goaltends, the basket is cancelled and play continues with the defensive team being given possession.

An attempt to unfairly disadvantage an opponent through physical contact is illegal and is called a foul. These are most commonly committed by defensive players; however, they can be committed by offensive players as well. Players who are fouled either receive the ball to pass inbounds again, or receive one or more free throws if they are fouled in the act of shooting, depending on whether the shot was successful. One point is awarded for making a free throw, which is attempted from a line 15 feet (4.6 m) from the basket.

The referee may use discretion in calling fouls (for example, by considering whether an unfair advantage was gained), sometimes making fouls controversial calls. The calling of fouls can vary between games, leagues and even between referees.

A player or coach who shows poor sportsmanship, for instance, by arguing with a referee or by fighting with another player, can be charged with a more serious foul called a technical foul. The penalty involves free throws (which unlike a personal foul, the other team can choose any player to shoot the free throws) and varies between leagues. Repeated incidents can result in disqualification. Blatant fouls with excessive contact or that are not an attempt to play the ball are called unsportsmanlike fouls (or flagrant fouls in the NBA) and typically will result in ejection.

If a team exceeds a certain limit of team fouls in a given period (quarter or half) – four for NBA and international games – the opposing team is awarded one or two free throws on all subsequent fouls for that period, the number depending on the league. In the US college game if a team surpasses 7 fouls in the half the opposing team is awarded a one-and-one free throw (a player making the first is given a second). If a team exceeds 10 fouls in the half the opposing team is awarded two free throws on all subsequent fouls for the half. A player who, in an international game, commits five fouls (including technical fouls), or in an NBA game, commits six fouls (excluding technical fouls) is not allowed to participate for the rest of the game, and is said to have "fouled out".

The number of free throws awarded increases with the number of fouls committed. Initially, one shot is awarded, but after a certain number of additional fouls are committed the opposing team may receive (a) one shot with a chance for a second shot if the first shot is made, called shooting "one-and-one", or (b) two shots. If a team misses the first shot (or "front end") of a one-and-one situation, the opposing team may reclaim possession of the ball and continue play. If a team misses the first shot of a two-shot situation, the opposing team must wait for the completion of the second shot before attempting to reclaim possession of the ball and continuing play.

If a player is fouled while attempting a shot and the shot is unsuccessful, the player is awarded a number of free throws equal to the value of the attempted shot. A player fouled while attempting a regular two-point shot, then, receives two shots. A player fouled while attempting a three-point shot, on the other hand, receives three shots.

If a player is fouled while attempting a shot and the shot is successful, typically the player will be awarded one additional free throw for one point. In combination with a regular shot, this is called a "three-point play" (or more colloquially, an "and one") because of the basket made at the time of the foul (2 points) and the additional free throw (1 point). Four-point plays, while rare, can also occur.

The above descriptions are flexible. On some occasions, teams will choose to use a three guard offense, replacing one of the forwards or the center with a third guard. The most commonly interchanged positions are point guard and shooting guard, especially if both players have good leadership and ball handling skills.

There are two main defensive strategies: zone defense and man-to-man defense. Zone defense involves players in defensive positions guarding whichever opponent is in their zone. In man-to-man defense, each defensive player guards a specific opponent and tries to prevent him from taking action.

Offensive plays are more varied, normally involving planned passes and movement by players without the ball. A quick movement by an offensive player without the ball to gain an advantageous position is a cut. A legal attempt by an offensive player to stop an opponent from guarding a teammate, by standing in the defender's way such that the teammate cuts next to him, is a screen or pick. The two plays are combined in the pick and roll, in which a player sets a pick and then "rolls" away from the pick towards the basket. Screens and cuts are very important in offensive plays; these allow the quick passes and teamwork which can lead to a successful basket. Teams almost always have several offensive plays planned to ensure their movement is not predictable. On court, the point guard is usually responsible for indicating which play will occur.

Defensive and offensive structures, and positions, are more emphasized in higher levels in basketball; it is these that a coach normally requests a time-out to discuss.

Shooting is the act of attempting to score points by throwing the ball through the basket. While methods can vary with players and situations, the most common technique can be outlined here.

The player should be positioned facing the basket with feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and back straight. The player holds the ball to rest in the dominant hand's fingertips (the shooting arm) slightly above the head, with the other hand on the side of the ball. To aim the ball, the player's elbow should be aligned vertically, with the forearm facing in the direction of the basket. The ball is shot by bending and extending the knees and extending the shooting arm to become straight; the ball rolls off the finger tips while the wrist completes a full downward flex motion. When the shooting arm is stationary for a moment after the ball released, it is known as a follow-through; it is incorporated to maintain accuracy. Generally, the non-shooting arm is used only to guide the shot, not to power it.

Players often try to put a steady backspin on the ball to deaden its impact with the rim. The ideal trajectory of the shot is somewhat arguable, but generally coaches will profess proper arch. Most players shoot directly into the basket, but shooters may use the backboard to redirect the ball into the basket.

The two most common shots that use the above described set up are the set shot and the jump shot. The set shot is taken from a standing position, with neither foot leaving the floor, typically used for free throws. The jump shot is taken while in mid-air, near the top of the jump. This provides much greater power and range, and it also allows the player to elevate over the defender. Failure to release the ball before returning the feet to the ground is a traveling violation.

Another common shot is called the layup. This shot requires the player to be in motion toward the basket, and to "lay" the ball "up" and into the basket, typically off the backboard (the backboard-free, underhand version is called a finger roll). The most crowd-pleasing, and typically highest-percentage accuracy shot is the slam dunk, in which the player jumps very high, and throws the ball downward, straight through the hoop.

Another shot that is becoming common is the "circus shot". The circus shot is a low-percentage shot that is flipped, heaved, scooped, or flung toward the hoop while the shooter is off-balance, airborne, falling down, and/or facing away from the basket.

A shot that misses both the rim and the backboard completely is referred to as an air ball. A particularly bad shot, or one that only hits the backboard, is jocularly called a brick.

The objective of rebounding is to successfully gain possession of the basketball after a missed field goal or free throw, as it rebounds from the hoop or backboard. This plays a major role in the game, as most possessions end when a team misses a shot. There are two categories of rebounds: offensive rebounds, in which the ball is recovered by the offensive side and does not change possession, and defensive rebounds, in which the defending team gains possession of the loose ball. The majority of rebounds are defensive, as the team on defense tends to be in better position to recover missed shots.

A pass is a method of moving the ball between players. Most passes are accompanied by a step forward to increase power and are followed through with the hands to ensure accuracy.

A staple pass is the chest pass. The ball is passed directly from the passer's chest to the receiver's chest. A proper chest pass involves an outward snap of the thumbs to add velocity and leaves the defence little time to react.

Another type of pass is the bounce pass. Here, the passer bounces the ball crisply about two-thirds of the way from his own chest to the receiver. The ball strikes the court and bounces up toward the receiver. The bounce pass takes longer to complete than the chest pass, but it is also harder for the opposing team to intercept (kicking the ball deliberately is a violation). Thus, players often use the bounce pass in crowded moments, or to pass around a defender.

The overhead pass is used to pass the ball over a defender. The ball is released while over the passer's head.

The outlet pass occurs after a team gets a defensive rebound. The next pass after the rebound is the outlet pass.

The crucial aspect of any good pass is being impossible to intercept. Good passers can pass the ball with great accuracy and touch and know exactly where each of their teammates like to receive the ball. A special way of doing this is passing the ball without looking at the receiving teammate. This is called a no-look pass.

Another advanced style of passing is the behind-the-back pass which, as the description implies, involves throwing the ball behind the passer's back to a teammate. Although some players can perform them effectively, many coaches discourage no-look or behind-the-back passes, believing them to be fundamentally unsound, difficult to control, and more likely to result in turnovers or violations.

Dribbling is the act of bouncing the ball continuously with one hand, and is a requirement for a player to take steps with the ball. To dribble, a player pushes the ball down towards the ground with the fingertips rather than patting it; this ensures greater control.

When dribbling past an opponent, the dribbler should dribble with the hand farthest from the opponent, making it more difficult for the defensive player to get to the ball. It is therefore important for a player to be able to dribble competently with both hands.

Good dribblers (or "ball handlers") tend to bounce the ball low to the ground, reducing the travel from the floor to the hand, making it more difficult for the defender to "steal" the ball. Additionally, good ball handlers frequently dribble behind their backs, between their legs, and change hands and directions of the dribble frequently, making a less predictable dribbling pattern that is more difficult to defend. This is called a crossover, which is the most effective way to pass defenders while dribbling.

A skilled player can dribble without watching the ball, using the dribbling motion or peripheral vision to keep track of the ball's location. By not having to focus on the ball, a player can look for teammates or scoring opportunities, as well as avoid the danger of someone stealing the ball from him/her.

A block is performed when, after a shot is attempted, a defender attempts to alter the shot by touching the ball. In almost all variants of play, it is illegal to touch the ball after it is in the downward part of its arc; this is known as goaltending. It is also illegal to block a shot after it has touched the backboard, or when any part of the ball is directly above the rim.

To block a shot, a player has to be able to reach a point higher than where the shot is released. Thus, height can be an advantage in blocking. Players at the taller power forward or center positions generally record more blocks than players at the shorter guard positions. However, with good timing and sufficient vertical leap, even shorter players can be effective at blocking shots.

At the professional level, most male players are above 6 feet 3 inches (1.9 m) and most women above 5 feet 7 inches (1.7 m). Guards, for whom physical coordination and ball-handling skills are crucial, tend to be the smallest players. Almost all forwards in the men's pro leagues are 6 feet 6 inches (2.0 m) or taller. Most centers are over 6 feet 10 inches (2.1 m) tall. According to a survey given to all NBA teams, the average height of all NBA players is just under 6 feet 7 inches (2.0 m), with the average weight being close to 222 pounds (101 kg). The tallest players ever in the NBA were Manute Bol and Gheorghe Mureşan, who were both 7 feet 7 inches (2.3 m) tall. The tallest current NBA player is Yao Ming, who stands at 7 feet 6 inches (2.3 m).

The shortest player ever to play in the NBA is Muggsy Bogues at 5 feet 3 inches (1.6 m). Other short players have thrived at the pro level. Anthony "Spud" Webb was just 5 feet 7 inches (1.7 m) tall, but had a 42-inch (1.07 m) vertical leap, giving him significant height when jumping. The shortest player in the NBA as of the 2006-07 season is Earl Boykins at 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m). While shorter players are often not very good at defending against shooting, their ability to navigate quickly through crowded areas of the court and steal the ball by reaching low are strengths.

Variations of basketball are activities based on the game of basketball, using common basketball skills and equipment (primarily the ball and basket). Some variations are only superficial rules changes, while others are distinct games with varying degrees of basketball influences. Other variations include children's games, contests or activities meant to help players reinforce skills.

Wheelchair basketball, created by disabled World War II veterans, is played on specially designed wheelchairs for the physically impaired. The world governing body of wheelchair basketball is the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF). Water basketball, played in a swimming pool, merges basketball and water polo rules. Beach basketball is played in a circular court with no backboard on the goal, no out-of-bounds rule with the ball movement to be done via passes or 2 1/2 steps, as dribbling is next to impossible on a soft surface.

There are many variations as well played in informal settings without referees or strict rules. Perhaps the single most common variation is the half court game. Only one basket is used, and the ball must be "cleared" - passed or dribbled outside the half-court or three-point line - each time possession of the ball changes from one team to the other. Half-court games require less cardiovascular stamina, since players need not run back and forth a full court. Half-court games also raise the number of players that can use a court, an important benefit when many players want to play.

A popular version of the half-court game is 21. Two-point shots count as two points and shots from behind the three-point line count three. A player who makes a basket is awarded up to three extra free throws (or unlimited if you are playing "all day"), worth the usual one point. When a shot is missed, if one of the other players tips the ball in with two while it is in the air, the score of the player who missed the shot goes back to zero, or if they have surpassed 13, their score goes back to 13. This is called a "tip". If a missed shot is "tipped" in, but the player who tips it in only uses one hand, then the player who shot it is out of the game and has to catch an air ball to get back in. The first player to reach exactly 21 points wins. If they go over, their score goes back to 13.

Other variations include streetball, knockout, Around the World, and one-on-one, a variation in which two players will use only a small section of the court (often no more than a half of a court) and compete to play the ball into a single hoop. Such games tend to emphasize individual dribbling and ball stealing skills over shooting and team play.

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Tim Duncan

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Timothy "Tim" Theodore Duncan (born April 25, 1976) is a Virgin Islander American professional basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m), 260-pound (118 kg) power forward/center is a four-time NBA champion, a three-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, and the current captain of the Spurs. He has also won the NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA Most Valuable Player Award twice, and has been voted into 11 NBA All-Star Games, 11 All-NBA Teams, and 11 All-Defensive Teams.

Duncan started out as a swimmer and only began playing basketball in ninth grade, after a hurricane destroyed the only Olympic-sized pool on the island. However, he soon became a standout for St. Dunstan's Episcopal High School, and had an illustrious college career with the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons, winning the Naismith College Player of the Year, USBWA College Player of the Year and John Wooden awards in his final year. Duncan graduated from college before entering the 1997 NBA Draft as the number one pick, and his list of accomplishments, remarkable consistency, and leadership in the Spurs' NBA title runs in 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007 have led basketball experts to consider him to be one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history.

Off the court, Duncan is known for his quiet and unassuming ways, as well as his active philanthropy. He holds an honors degree in psychology and created the Tim Duncan Foundation to raise general health awareness and fund education and youth sports in various parts of the United States.

Duncan is the only son of Ione and William Duncan, a midwife and a mason respectively, joining his two older sisters Cheryl and Tricia in a middle-class family in Christiansted, a town on Saint Croix, one of the main islands composing the United States Virgin Islands. In school, Duncan was a bright pupil and dreamt of becoming an Olympic-level swimmer like his sister, Tricia. His parents were very supportive and Duncan excelled at swimming, becoming a teenage standout in the 50, 100 and 400 meters freestyle and aiming to make the 1992 Olympic Games as a member of the United States Team.

When Hurricane Hugo destroyed the island's only Olympic size swimming pool in 1989, forcing Duncan to swim in the ocean, he soon lost enthusiasm because of his fear of sharks. Duncan was dealt another emotional blow when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and died one day before his 14th birthday. In her last days, she made Duncan and his sisters promise to finish college with a degree, which would later explain Duncan's reluctance to leave college early. Duncan never swam competitively again, but was inspired by his brother-in-law to turn to basketball.

Duncan initially had difficulties adapting to the game he thought would help relieve his pain and frustration. Nancy Pomroy, the athletic director of the St. Croix Country Day School was quoted: " was so huge. So big and tall, but he was awfully awkward at the time." He overcame this to become a standout for the St. Dunstan’s Episcopal High School, averaging 25 points per game as a senior. His play attracted the attention of several universities, despite having only picked up the game in ninth grade. Wake Forest University basketball coach Dave Odom in particular grew interested in Duncan after the 16-year-old allegedly played NBA star Alonzo Mourning to a draw in a 5-on-5 pick-up game. Odom was searching for a tall, physical player to play near the basket. Given the weak level of basketball in the Virgin Islands, Odom was wary about Duncan at first, especially after first meeting him and thinking him to be inattentive; Duncan stared blankly at Odom for most of the conversation. However, after the first talk, Odom understood that this was just Duncan's way of paying attention, and discovered that he was not only athletically talented, but also a quick learner. Eventually, despite offers by the University of Hartford, the University of Delaware and Providence College, Duncan joined Odom's Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons had previously reached the Sweet 16, but lost main scorer Rodney Rogers, who had entered the 1993 NBA Draft. Duncan struggled with early transition problems and was even held scoreless in his first college game, but as the year progressed, he and teammate Randolph Childress led the Deacons to a 20–11 win-loss record. Duncan's style of play was simple but effective, combining an array of low-post moves, mid-range bank shots and tough defense. He was chosen to represent the U.S. in the 1994 Goodwill Games. Meanwhile, Duncan worked towards a degree in psychology and also took classes in anthropology and Chinese literature. Despite focusing heavily on basketball, Wake Forest psychology department chairperson Deborah Best was quoted: "Tim was one of my more intellectual students. Other than his height, I couldn't tell him from any other student at Wake Forrest." Duncan also established his reputation as a stoic player, to the extent that opposing fans taunted him as "Mr. Spock", the prototypical logical, detached character from Star Trek.

In the 1994–95 NCAA season, the sophomore was soon called one of the most eligible NBA prospects, along with his peers Joe Smith, Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse. Los Angeles Lakers general manager Jerry West suggested that Duncan might become the top pick in the 1995 NBA Draft if he went early, but Duncan assured everyone he had no intention of going pro until he graduated, even though the NBA was planning to add a rookie salary cap in 1996. He was giving up a lot of money, but was determined to stay in school. In that season, he led the Demon Deacons into the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship game against a Rasheed Wallace-led North Carolina Tar Heels. During that game, Duncan neutralized the threat of Wallace, while Childress sealed the win with a jump shot with four seconds left in overtime. In the NCAA Tournament, the Demon Deacons reached the Sweet 16, and playing against Oklahoma State, Duncan scored 12 points to go with 22 rebounds and eight blocks, outplaying Bryant Reeves, but his team lost 66–71. Still, Duncan ended the year averaging 16.8 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, was named Defensive Player of the Year and became the third-best shot-blocker in NCAA history with 3.98 denials per game. He was also voted All-ACC First Team, a feat he would repeat in each of his two remaining years at Wake Forest.

In the following 1995–96 NCAA season, Wake Forest had to deal with the loss of Childress, who entered the NBA. This provided an opportunity for Duncan to show his leadership qualities, and his inexperienced team lost only four games in the entire ACC season. The Demon Deacons won the ACC Finals again, but in the Sweet 16, Duncan came down with flu, and his team missed the Final Four by one win. He completed another remarkable season with averages of 19.1 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, and was again voted Defensive and ACC Player of the Year. At the season's end the Wake Forest star was rumored to enter the NBA Draft early, but in the end, he stayed in college.

In the 1996–97 NCAA season, Duncan was helped by the addition of future NBA player Loren Woods, a 7'1" player who eased the pressure on Duncan close to the basket. The Demon Deacons won their first 13 games, but then got into a slump and failed to win a third ACC title. The NCAA campaign was just as frustrating, as Stanford University led by future NBA point guard Brevin Knight eliminated Duncan's team with a 72–66 win. Duncan finished with an individually impressive season though, averaging 20.8 points, 14.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting .606 from the field and winning the Defensive Player of the Year for an unprecedented third straight season. He earned first-team All-America honors for the second time, and was a unanimous pick for both USWBA and Naismith College Player of the Year. Duncan led the 1996–97 NCAA Division I in rebounding, was 10th in blocked shots (3.3 bpg) and 28th in scoring (20.8 ppg). He was voted ACC Player of the Year again and won the 1997 John Wooden Award as the NCAA's best overall male player based on the votes of sportscasters and newswriters.

In contrast to contemporary prep-to-pro players like Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James, Duncan stayed at college for a full four years. During that period, he was a two-time ACC Player of the Year, and an unprecedented three-time NABC Defensive Player of the Year. The center also made the All-ACC Tournament between 1995 and 1997, the All-ACC First Team between 1995 and 1997, and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1996 ACC Tournament. Further, 1996 was the year where he led the conference in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots, becoming the first player in conference history to lead all four of those categories. Overall, Duncan led his team to a 97–31 win-loss record and finished his college career as the second-leading shot blocker in NCAA history, and remains one of only ten players with more than 2,000 career points and 1,500 career rebounds. He was also the first player in NCAA history to reach 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 blocked shots and 200 assists. He left college as the all-time leading shot-blocker in ACC history with 481 blocks – second in NCAA annals behind Colgate's Adonal Foyle and third on the ACC career rebounding list with 1,570 rebounds. With his college degree in his hands, Duncan finally made himself eligible for the 1997 NBA Draft.

The Spurs qualified for the 1998 NBA Playoffs as the fifth seed, but Duncan had a bad first half in his first playoff game against the Phoenix Suns, causing Suns coach Danny Ainge to play Duncan with less defensive pressure. The rookie capitalized on this by finishing Game 1 with 32 points and 10 rebounds and recording 32 points and 10 rebounds in Game 2, contributing to a 3–1 victory over the Suns. However, the Spurs lost in the second round to the eventual Western Conference Champions Utah Jazz. In this series, Duncan was pitted against Hall-of-Fame power forward Karl Malone. Duncan outscored Malone in the first two games which the Spurs lost, but as the series progressed, the more experienced Malone shut Duncan down on defense and dominated on offense, outscoring the young power forward in Games 3 to 5 with 10–18, 22–34 and 14–24.

During the lockout-shortened 1998–99 season, the Spurs started with a lackluster 6–8 record and Popovich came under fire from the press. However, Duncan and Robinson stood behind their coach, and finished the season with a 31–5 run. The sophomore averaged 21.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.5 blocks in the regular season, making both the All-NBA and All-Defense First Teams. In the 1999 NBA Playoffs, the Spurs defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 3–1, swept the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers 4–0, and defeated the Cinderella story New York Knicks 4–1 in the Finals. In this series, a large contingent of Virgin Islanders flew over to support their local hero, and were not disappointed. In the first two games, the "Twin Towers" outscored their Knicks counterparts Chris Dudley/Larry Johnson with 41 points, 26 rebounds and nine blocks versus five points, 12 rebounds and zero blocks. After a Game 3 loss in which Duncan was held scoreless in the third quarter and committed three turnovers in the last quarter, Duncan rebounded with 28 points and 18 rebounds in a Game 4 win, and in Game 5, the Spurs protected a 78–77 lead seconds from the end with the ball in the Knicks' possession. Double teamed by Duncan and Robinson, Knicks swingman Latrell Sprewell missed a last-second desperation shot, and after closing out the series with a strong 31-point and 9-rebound showing in Game 5, Duncan was named Finals MVP, bringing San Antonio their first-ever NBA championship.

In the 1999–2000 season, Duncan further cemented his reputation. He averaged 23.2 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.2 blocks per game, earned another pair of All-NBA and All-Defense First Team call-ups, and was co-MVP with Shaquille O'Neal of the NBA All-Star Game. However, the Spurs had a disappointing post-season. Duncan injured his meniscus shortly before the end of the regular season and was unable to play in even one post-season game. Consequently, the Spurs were eliminated in the first round of the 2000 NBA Playoffs, losing 3–1 to the Phoenix Suns. Nonetheless, Duncan rebounded in the next season, and with strong regular-season averages of 22.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 blocks, earned himself yet another pair of All-NBA and All-Defensive First Team call-ups. In the 2001 NBA Playoffs, the Spurs eliminated the Timberwolves 3–1, defeated the Dallas Mavericks 4–1, but then bowed out against the Lakers led by superstars Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, losing in four straight games. Sports Illustrated described the series as a "erciless mismatch", and Duncan was criticized as "silent when the Spurs need him most".

On the back of two consecutive playoff disappointments, Duncan improved statistically in the 2001–02 season. He averaged career highs in scoring (25.5 points per game, including a league-leading 764 field goals and 560 attempted free throws) and rebounding (12.7 boards per game, and his cumulated 1042 boards again led the league), and also averaged 3.7 assists and 2.5 blocks per game, both personal NBA high scores. Coupled with another pair of All-NBA and All-Defensive First Team call-ups, he was named the league's Most Valuable Player, joining teammate David Robinson as the only Spurs members to earn the honor. On the other hand, Duncan's team struggled with the fact that the aging Robinson was no longer able to sustain his level of performance, and backup center-forward Malik Rose had to step in more often. In the 2002 NBA Playoffs, the Spurs were outmatched by the Lakers. Up against star center O'Neal once more, the Spurs were defeated 4–1 by the eventual champions. Duncan, who managed 34 points and a franchise-high 25 rebounds in Game 5, stated his frustration: "I thought we really had a chance at this series. The Lakers proved to be more than we could handle. Again, we had a (heck) of a run at it. We had opportunities to win games and make it a different series, but that's just the way the ball rolls sometimes." Nevertheless, NBA.com praised Duncan as "phenomenal" and criticized his supporting cast, stating Duncan "made 11-of-23 shots and 12-of-14 free throws, adding four assists and two blocks nd once again, he did not have enough help." Also, Robinson said "Tim was like Superman out there", and conceded that the Lakers were simply better, just like in the last playoffs campaign.

The 2002–03 season saw Duncan enjoy another standout season in which he averaged 23.3 points, a career-high 12.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.9 blocks per game, and yet another dual All-NBA and All-Defense First Team call-up, resulting in his second NBA Most Valuable Player Award. At age 38, Robinson announced that year as his last season, and his playing time was cut by coach Popovich to save his energy for the playoffs. The Spurs qualified easily for the playoffs, concluding the regular season as the Conference number one seed with a 60–22 record. Although San Antonio now had new offensive threats in Tony Parker and Manu Ginóbili, during the playoffs, it was Duncan's performance in the semi-finals against the Los Angeles Lakers which was singled out for praise by Popovich, who stated: "I thought in Game 5 and Game 6, he was astounding in his focus. He pulled everyone along these last two games." In the series, Duncan was matched up against forward Robert Horry, dominated him the entire series and closed out the series in style; Duncan finished Game 6 with 37 points and 16 rebounds, allowing Spurs coach Popovich to call timeout with 2:26 left to instruct his team not to celebrate excessively. The Spurs made it to the finals, and defeated the New Jersey Nets 88–77 in Game Six to win their second ever NBA championship, denying New Jersey from having both NBA and NHL titles, as the New Jersey Devils had won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on the Nets' home court. Helped by an inspired Robinson, Duncan almost recorded a quadruple double in the final game, and was named the NBA Finals MVP. Duncan said of the victory: "We were all confident that something would happen, that we would turn the game to our favor, and it did", but felt sad that Robinson retired after winning his second championship ring. Following this successful Spurs campaign, Robinson and Duncan were named Sports Illustrated's 2003 "Sportsmen of the Year".

Before the 2003–04 season began, the Spurs lost their perennial captain David Robinson to retirement. Embracing the lone team leader role, Duncan led a reformed Spurs team which included Slovenian center Rasho Nesterovič, defensive stalwart Bruce Bowen, Argentinian shooting guard Ginóbili and young French point guard Parker. Coming off the bench were clutch shooting power forward Robert Horry, versatile Hedo Turkoglu and veterans Malik Rose and Kevin Willis. In retrospect, Robinson commented that at first, Duncan was reluctant to step into the void, still needing some time to truly develop his leadership skills. Statistically though, Duncan remained strong; after another convincing season with averages of 22.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.7 blocks, he led the Spurs into the Western Conference Semifinals. There, they met the Los Angeles Lakers again, split the series 2–2, and in Game 5, Duncan made a last-second basket which put the Spurs ahead by one point with 0.4 seconds left to play. Despite the little time remaining, Lakers point guard Derek Fisher hit a buzzer beater for an upset Lakers win. In the end, the Spurs lost the series 4–2, and Duncan attributed the strong Lakers defense as one of the reasons for the loss.

Duncan and his Spurs looked to re-assert themselves in the next 2004–05 season. Despite their new captain's slight statistical slump (20.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.6 blocks per game), the Spurs won the second seed for the 2005 NBA Playoffs by winning 59 games. In the first round, the Spurs eliminated the Denver Nuggets four games to one, and met the Seattle SuperSonics in the semi-finals. After splitting the first four games, Duncan led his team to two decisive victories, setting up a meeting with the Phoenix Suns, known for their up-tempo basketball. The Spurs managed to beat the Suns at their own game, defeating them 4–1 and earning a spot in the 2005 NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons. In the Finals, Duncan was pitted against Detroit's defensively strong frontcourt anchored by multiple NBA Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace. After two convincing Game 1 and 2 wins for the Spurs, the Pistons double teamed Duncan and forced him to play further from the basket. Detroit won the next two games and the series was eventually tied at 3–3, but Duncan was instrumental in Game 7, recording 25 points and 11 rebounds as the Spurs defeated the Pistons. NBA.com reported that "ith his unique multidimensional talent, Duncan depleted and dissected the Pistons... He was the fulcrum of virtually every key play down the stretch", and coach Popovich added: " complete game is so sound, so fundamental, so unnoticed at times, because if he didn't score, people think, 'Well, he didn't do anything'. But he was incredible and he was the force that got it done for us." Detroit's center Ben Wallace remarked: "He put his team on his shoulders and carried them to a championship hat's what the great players do." Duncan won his third NBA Finals MVP Award, joining Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Magic Johnson as the only players in NBA history to win it three times.

During the 2005–06 season, Duncan suffered from plantar fasciitis for most of the season, which was at least partly responsible for his sinking output (18.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.0 blocks per game), and also for his failure to make the All-NBA First Team after eight consecutive years. The big man came back strong in the 2006 NBA Playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks, where he outscored rival power forward Dirk Nowitzki 32.2 to 27.1 points, with neither Nowitzki nor Mavericks center Erick Dampier able to stop Duncan with their man-to-man defense. But after splitting the first six games, Duncan became the tragic hero of his team in Game 7. Despite scoring 39 points in regulation time and fouling out both Dampier and Keith Van Horn, Duncan only made one of seven field goal attempts in overtime against Mavericks reserve center DeSagana Diop, and the Spurs lost Game 7.

With Duncan being healthy for 78 games and posting typical 20/10 numbers, San Antonio concluded the 2007–08 regular season with a 56–26 record, finishing behind the Lakers and New Orleans Hornets in the Western Conference and setting up themselves for a first-round contest against the Suns. The Suns—defeated by the Spurs in three of the past four seasons of playoffs—were out for revenge and featured a new player in four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal. In Game 1, Duncan set the tone with a 40-point game and a rare three-pointer that sent the game into double overtime. The trio of Duncan, Ginóbili and Parker continued playing to form for the remainder of the series, and the Spurs eliminated the Suns in five games. In the first game of the next around against the Chris Paul-led Hornets, San Antonio were badly defeated 101–82 as Duncan played one of the worst playoff games in his career, recording only 5 points and 3 rebounds. The Spurs dropped the next game as well, but recovered in Games 3 and 4, with Duncan putting up a team-high 22 point/15 rebound/4 block performance in the game that tied the series. Duncan then recorded 20 points and 15 rebounds in Game 6, and the Spurs relied on their experience to seal the series in Game 7. However, arch-rivals Los Angeles Lakers defeated San Antonio in five games in the Conference Finals, and the Spurs once again failed to capture back-to-back NBA championships.

Despite Duncan having problems with his knee and the team losing the services of shooting guard Ginóbili for most of the 2008–09 season, San Antonio qualified for the playoffs as the third seed with a 54–28 record. Coupled with an aging supporting cast (Bowen, Michael Finley and Kurt Thomas were all in their late 30s), however, the Spurs were only considered fringe contenders for the championship.

In 1998 Duncan was selected as one of the last two players for the United States national team for the World Basketball Championship. However, this team was later replaced with CBA and college players because of the NBA lockout. Duncan's first chance at playing for the national team came in 1999 when he was called up to the Olympic Qualifying Team. He averaged 12.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 2.4 bpg and led the team to a 10–0 finish en route to a qualifying berth for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but a knee injury forced him to stay out of the Olympic Games themselves.

In 2003, Duncan was also a member of the USA team that recorded ten wins and qualified for the 2004 Summer Olympics. He started all the games he played in and averaged team bests of 15.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.56 bpg, while shooting 60.7 percent from the field. At the Olympics itself, the team lost three games on its way to a bronze medal. The record represented more losses in a single year than in the 68 previous years combined. It was also the first time since NBA professionals became eligible that the U.S. men's basketball team returned home without gold medals. After the tournament, Duncan commented, "I am about 95 percent sure my FIBA career is over. I'll try not to share my experiences with anyone." In total, Duncan was a member of five USA Basketball teams and played in 40 international games.

Duncan starts at the power forward position, but can also play center. With a double-double career average in points and rebounds, he is considered one of the most consistent players in the NBA. He has earned All-NBA and All-Defensive honors every season since his rookie year in 1998 while being a perennial candidate for the Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards. Regarded as one of the league's best interior defenders, Duncan also ranks consistently as one of the top scorers, rebounders and shot-blockers in the league. His main weakness remains his free throw shooting, with a career average of less than 70%.

Apart from his impressive statistics, Duncan has gained a reputation as a good clutch player, as evidenced by his three NBA Finals MVP awards and his playoff career averages being higher than his regular-season statistics. Eleven-time NBA champion Bill Russell further compliments Duncan on his passing ability, and rates him as one of the most efficient players of his generation, a view shared by 19-time NBA All-Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Because of his versatility and success, basketball experts have spoken of Duncan as one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history, while coach Popovich and team-mates Parker and Ginóbili have also credited much of San Antonio's success to him. Duncan's detractors, however, label him as "boring" because of his simple but effective style of play. Following his first championship ring in 1999, Sports Illustrated described him as a "quiet, boring MVP", a characterization which persists today.

In his basketball career, Duncan has collected a number of individual and team honors, including being a two-time MVP (2002, 2003), four-time NBA champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007) and three-time NBA Finals MVP (1999, 2003, 2005). As a college player, he was honored by the House of Representatives, named the ACC Male Athlete of the Year, won the John R. Wooden Award, and was selected as the Naismith College Player of the Year (all 1997). In 2002, Duncan was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary men's basketball team honoring the 50 greatest players in ACC history. In his debut year in the NBA (1998), he was voted Rookie of the Year and elected into the All-NBA Rookie Team, made the first of 11 NBA All-Star Teams (ten First Team nominations), 11 All-NBA Teams (nine First Team nominations), and 11 All-Defensive Teams (eight First Team nominations). With these impressive performances, Duncan is one of only four players to receive All-NBA First Team honors in each of his first eight seasons (1998–2005), along with Hall of Famers Bob Pettit (ten seasons), Larry Bird (nine seasons), and Oscar Robertson (nine seasons), and is notably the only player in NBA history to receive All-NBA and All-Defensive honors in his first eleven seasons (1998–2008).

Duncan was also named by the Association for Professional Basketball Research as one of "100 Greatest Professional Basketball Players of The 20th Century", the youngest player on that list. In the 2001–02 season, he won the IBM Player Award and The Sporting News (TSN) MVP Award, becoming the third player to ever win the NBA MVP, IBM Player and TSN Player Awards in the same season. In 2003, Duncan was ranked 55th by Slam Magazine in their list of the Top 75 NBA players of All Time. On February 18, 2006, he was named one of the Next 10 Greatest Players on the tenth anniversary of the release of the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team by the TNT broadcasting crew.

Tim Duncan has two older sisters, Cheryl and Tricia. Like their younger brother, they were gifted athletes: Cheryl was a championship swimmer before she became a nurse, and Tricia swam for the U.S. Virgin Islands at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. He married Amy, an ex-cheerleader at Wake Forest University, and the couple had their first child, daughter Sydney, in the summer of 2005, and a second child, a son, during the summer of 2007. Amy oversees the Tim Duncan Foundation, which has been established to serve the areas of health awareness/research, education, and youth sports/recreation in San Antonio, Winston-Salem, and the United States Virgin Islands. The Foundation holds two major fundraisers each year: the annual Tim Duncan Bowling for Dollar$ Charity Bowl-A-Thon and the annual Slam Duncan Charity Golf Classic. Between 2001 and 2002, the Foundation raised more than $350,000 to help fight breast and prostate cancer. In those two years, Duncan was named by Sporting News as one of the "Good Guys" in sports. The Spurs captain also supports the Children's Bereavement Center, the Children's Center of San Antonio and the Cancer Therapy and Research Center.

Duncan cites his late mother Ione as his main inspiration. Among other things, she taught him and his sisters the nursery rhyme "Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest / Until your Good is Better, and your Better is your Best", which he adopted as his personal motto. On and off the court, he believes that the three most important values are dedication, teamwork and camaraderie. The Spurs captain has also stated that he chose #21 for his jersey because that was his brother-in-law's college number, since he was Duncan's main basketball inspiration, and cites Hall-of-Fame Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson as his childhood idol.

Regarding his own personality, Duncan compares himself to Will Hunting of the movie Good Will Hunting, which centers around the genial and antagonistic character of Will Hunting, portrayed by Matt Damon. He stated: "I'm just a taller, slightly less hyperactive version of the Damon character in the movie. I really enjoyed how he probed people and found out their weaknesses just by asking questions and stating outlandish remarks." He also admitted shunning the limelight because " is not me". Off the court, he has cited that his best friend is former Spurs colleague Antonio Daniels, who himself describes Duncan as a cheerful, funny person off the hardwood.

Duncan also loves Renaissance fairs and the fantasy role playing game Dungeons & Dragons. An avid video game player, he acknowledges a certain joy of playing "himself" on basketball video games. Duncan states if he had the chance, he would challenge NBA legends Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to a one-on-one game.

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Source : Wikipedia