Throwback: When Dirk Nowitzki Dropped 52 against Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Scottie Pippen While Serving in German Army

Even before Dirk Nowitzki terrorized the defenses in NBA, he showcased his skills against the best players in a Nike organised compeition.

Updated on Jun 10, 2024  |  09:02 PM IST |  59K
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Dirk Nowitzki and Charles Barkley

Millions of people have heard the legendary story of how a young Dirk Nowitzki started to gain notoriety by scoring 52 points against a Nike traveling team that included some of the greatest basketball players of all time, such as Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen. However, a significant part of the tale that is rarely discussed is the fact that Dirk was a member of the German army at the time.

During an interview with Shaquille O'Neal, another legendary big man, on "The Big Podcast," the Hall of Famer reflected on that 1997 game, in which he was only 19 years old. Nowitzki was still in Germany fulfilling his mandatory military duty at the time.

Dirk Nowitzki

What did Dirk say?

Dirk was assigned to a sports company, a unique branch of the military where soldiers can continue to hone their sportsmanship while performing their missions Dirk said, "It was mandatory in Germany for a while. When that team came over to Germany, I was actually in the Army. I did two months of regular basic training, which was a couple of months before those games."

He further added, "Then, for about six or seven months, I was in something called a sports company where I could train full-time. I could train in the morning, and train in the evening, and that's really when I started being a professional. But at the time, I was still in the Army." 

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Hoop Heroes Tour organized by Nike

The game, which was a part of Nike's "Hoop Heroes Tour," featured some of the company's most well-known endorsers traveling to Germany to play against a local team.

The story has changed a few times, as Dirk pointed out; one version claims he had fifty at halftime. The 2007 NBA MVP acknowledged that he wasn't even close to that at the half, but he still said it was a lot of fun to play against players he looked up to.

ALSO READ: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? Dirk Nowitzki Weighs In on Soccer GOAT Debate With Firm Verdict

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