DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki, 16 points away from accumulating 20,000 career points, remembers his first two like it was yesterday.
"It was the first game of my career in Seattle against [Detlef] Schrempf. There was huge hype, Germans all over the place. They organized a handshake with me and Schrempf before the game at halfcourt and it was just a mess," Nowitzki said. "It was like the stadium was so big, I was just in awe the whole time."
The game was played at Seattle's Key Arena on Feb. 5, 1999. Nowitzki's rookie season got a late start because of the league's labor stoppage. The Mavs lost, 92-86 in overtime, but Nowitzki's first game couldn't end soon enough.
"I was like 0-for-3 or 0-for-4 from the floor and I made two free throws, so those were my first points in my NBA career," Nowitzki siad. "Looking back, it was probably one of the worst games I ever played."
It was worse than he remembered. Nowitzki started the game and went 0-of-5 with no rebounds and five assists in 16 minutes. The starting lineup that night? PG Steve Nash SG Michael Finley SF A.C. Green PF Dirk Nowitzki C Shawn Bradley.
At least Nowitzki got to meet Schremf, his trail-blazing countryman.
"Detlef was nice, though, he introduced me to his family afterwards and gave me his phone number and said any problems you ever have, any questions, you just give me a ring," Nowitzki said. "That was really nice of him, so I’ll always remember that."
Nowitzki will get his first crack at joining the exclusive 20,000-point club tonight at home against the Los Angeles Lakers.