The Great Nowitzki: Basketball and the Meaning of Life

Thomas Pletzinger. Norton, $30 (448p) ISBN 978-1-324-00305-2
With the intensity and focus of a point guard, sportswriter and novelist Pletzinger (Funeral for a Dog) chronicles the career of 14-time All-Star basketball pro Dirk Nowitzki, “one of the best players in American sports.” Drawing on interviews with Nowitzki’s family, friends, and former teammates, Pletzinger traces his subject’s story, from his youth as “a scrawny kid” in Germany to his remarkable 21 years playing for the Dallas Mavericks. In 1993, upon meeting the then-16-year-old, German former pro basketball player Holger Geschwinder recalls noticing how Nowitzki, at a mere six feet, eight inches, ran circles around the taller players: “The game [was] like water for him.” (Geschwinder became Nowitzki’s mentor and went on to accompany him throughout his career with the Mavericks after he was drafted in 1998.) As Pletzinger offers nimble recaps of Nowitzki’s games—including the Mavericks’ 2011 world championship—the basketball star emerges as a stoic and philosophical player devoted to the game (“Home crowds loved Nowitzki; opposing fans feared him”). What sets this account apart from other sports biographies, though, is Pletzinger’s visceral love for his subject: “His triumphs made me happy, his failures seemed excusable. Somehow, his victories were my own.” This is sure to be a slam dunk with hoops fans. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 11/24/2021
Release date: 03/15/2022
Genre: Nonfiction
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