The San Antonio Spurs have faced some top-tier competition over the last two decades, but few competitors reached the status of Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki.
Now that their illustrious careers are coming to a final curtain call, both Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki will be remembered by San Antonio Spurs fans as pesky and difficult matchups in their own right. While Nowitzki’s reign in Dallas was key to an interstate rivalry with Tim Duncan, San Antonio matched up against Dwyane Wade in both the brightest and darkest of times.
Both of these uncanny individuals have left their mark on the game of basketball by providing a model of consistency in unique ways.
Around the same time that the Spurs showed their knack for scouting and introducing international players to the NBA, Nowitzki forged a path for European basketball players to achieve their hoop dreams and compete at the highest level. For as heated as the rivalry with Dallas became during the Big Three Era, there will always be a level of respect between these two fanbases for their deep-rooted love of the state of Texas and their appreciation of their franchise-altering bigs.
Through 90 games played against each other, Tim Duncan claimed 53 total victories over Dirk with 35 in the regular season and 18 in the postseason. The two titans of Texas put on their best efforts against each other because of the competitive spirit and ambition that drove them in their basketball careers.
Duncan averaged 21.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, three assists and 1.9 blocks in games played against Nowitzki. On the flip side, Nowitzki averaged an impressive stat line of 21.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.8 blocks in meetings with Duncan.
Meanwhile, Wade dueled against Manu Ginobili in back-to-back NBA Finals in 2013 and 2014 with each side claiming a chip; but you already knew that. Although their connection was solely built on the basketball court, Wade and head coach Gregg Popovich have a high level of respect and care for each other as competitors and basketball historians.
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Through their own duels, D-Wade and Dirk have been intertwined by the test of time and by the impact that each had on the other’s legacy. Wade, along with an aging Shaquille O’Neal and a cast of feisty characters, led the Miami Heat past Dirk and Mavericks in the 2006 Finals. He was later paid back for his victory when Dirk’s 2011 Mavericks spoiled the inaugural season of Miami’s Big Three when he claimed his sole title.
More so than anything, these two notable figures have shown that you can build something incredible with the city that drafted you while lighting up the lives of everyone that enters your path. This related closely to the values instilled by the Spurs over their sustained run of high-caliber basketball since the late-nineties.
Consuming the game from the perspective of a Spurs fan gives a great admiration for players that display a high level of character and basketball IQ. Few players embody these two traits as well as the highlighted duo has.
A tip of the cap goes to Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki for giving the Spurs hell and showing the basketball community what is means to be a world-class citizen. Thanks for the memories!