Dirk Nowitzki hits everything.
In the playoffs, every time a shot leaves his hand you think it is going in, no matter how awkward his body position looks. And it feels different than other players who do the same thing. You see Kobe Bryant hit a leaning one-legged three pointer and you think “he probably practiced that 500 times” but with Dirk the unconventional seems less rehearsed and more reactionary. Like he is just ready for anything.
Because his practice routine prepares him for anything. Dave D’Alessandro of the New Jersey Star-Ledger detailed one of Nowitzki’s game-day workouts with his unorthodox mentor, Holger Geschwindner.
Initially, it was a typical set of shooting drills. Overheads with each hand to warm up. Catch and shoot from mid-range. Right-to-left and left-to-right crossovers at each elbow. High-arc stuff from outer space.
“And then, it just got crazy,” said Bob Salmi (of ESPN), whose pals rolled cameras and captured it from every angle. “It was a 50-minute workout, and one of the most bizarre things I ever saw in basketball.”
• A pirouette at the foul line, spinning 360 degrees off one shoulder and shooting; then reversing the spin and shooting. You get dizzy just watching it.
• One-footed jumpers — both right and left, both with leg extended and knee bent — from every mid-range angle, with or without glass. All of it is the kind of up-the-ladder stuff you pull out to finish a game of H-O-R-S-E.
• Something we’ll call the Groucho Marx: He’d take two long strides while still in a crouch, pick up a rolling ball, then shoot. Going both ways.
• The Eiffel Tower: Dirk spreads his legs as far as they can go (say, 2½ feet beyond his shoulder width), reach over to touch a foot with both hands, and then catch-and-shoot from that very awkward, open position. This is the one that makes every male shield his eyes.
He practices the unconventional. Then, in a game, when the unconventional is called for he’s ready.
He’s going to have to be ready for and hit a lot of unconventional shots if the Mavs are going to win this series.