NBA news: Kobe Bryant recruited Mavs' Dirk Nowitzki to play for Lakers
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Kobe Bryant recalls trying to recruit Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki to play for the Lakers

Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Mavs, Lakers

Even in the early stages of the superteam era, Kobe Bryant recalls making a pitch to a superstar himself, reaching out to Dallas Mavericks talisman Dirk Nowitzki, faintly hoping he would be willing to join the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers icon spoke with Mike Greenberg of ESPN, telling the tale that saw him pick up the phone and pitch Nowitzki on a potential team-up, even if the odds were slim.

“I remember calling Dirk back when he was a free agent,” said Bryant. “I called him and said ‘Dirk, listen: I know you’re not leaving Dallas, I get it. But, I got to make the call. What do you think?’ And he says ‘You’re right, bro. I’m a lifer like you, man. You know, we don’t leave.'”

While Bryant didn’t specify the time, the word “lifer” doesn’t usually come around unless a player has spent 10-plus years with a team. In Nowitzki’s case, he only became a free agent two times in his career — first after the 2009-10 season, then later after the 2016-17 season, allowing the Mavs to re-work his contract for a smaller sum in order to find free agents.

Given that Bryant played his last game at the end of 2015-16, it’s likely he was referring to 2010 — a critical time for both players.

The Black Mamba was coming off back-to-back championships playing alongside Pau Gasol and looked to add even more riches to his glory. However, Nowitzki made the right decision by staying, as he would win his lone NBA championship that season after signing a four-year, $80 million deal with the Mavs as a free agent.