There's one story about Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant that will never get old, and that's how the late Los Angeles Lakers legend tried to recruit the Dallas Mavericks icon from joining him in Hollywood.
Nowitzki retold the story in his latest interview with Graham Bensinger, sharing his belief that Bryant respected him more after he rejected his recruitment pitch.
The Mavs legend also shared his admiration for Bryant and how honored he was to see the Lakers icon call him and propose a team-up. While Nowitzki said he thought it would have been fun playing with Bryant, he just couldn't leave what he has built in Dallas and disappoint all the fans that have been so faithful to him through the ups and downs of his career.
“I was always a huge Kobe fan. If you compare anyone to [Michael] Jordan, he's the closest as it gets–the way he moves, the way he played the game was basically a copy of it. When he had fourth quarters and games where he'd take over, I would rush home, eat and sit there and watch Kobe play the fourth quarter,” Nowitzki shared.
“He reached out to me during free agency, and of course I was honored. I mean that's Kobe, but I basically told him, ‘Listen, I respect you so much, it would be so much fun to play with you, but you know what I've built here in Dallas and everybody's been super loyal to me.' And I think he expected that answer. I think in a way he respected me for that, and I think he wanted me to stay loyal and stay here in team.”
Sure enough, it would have been interesting to see what a Kobe Bryant-Dirk Nowitzki tandem could have done in the NBA. But clearly, it wasn't meant to be.
For what it's worth, it's not the first time a Bryant-Nowitzki partnership didn't push through. As reported previously, Mark Cuban thought he had a deal done to bring Kobe to the Mavs in 2007, only for the negotiations to fall apart.
This partnership is definitely one of the biggest “What ifs” in NBA history. But hey, Mavs fan will be happy with the fact that Dirk stayed and won a championship in Dallas.