While it’s been a little while since he hit the hardwood, no basketball fan can forget Dirk Nowitzki. During his time with the Dallas Mavericks, the big German became the face of the franchise; along the way, he played in over 1,500 games, won an NBA title, and earned more than $251 million in salary.
Despite that impressive earning power, though, Dirk Nowitzki was still known to show up to games carrying a foil-wrapped ‘to-go plate’ of food. What was behind the big man’s seemingly cheap habit?
Dirk Nowitzki had an incredible NBA career with the Dallas Mavericks
These days, the Dallas Mavericks are led by Luka Doncic, their star Slovenian. In the 2000s, though, a German named Dirk Nowitzki was running the show.
Nowitzki came from an athletic family and grew up playing tennis and handball; his height, however, eventually pushed him toward basketball. He joined DJK Würzburg as a teenager and, before long, had made a name for himself by overpowering the competition and even dunking on Charles Barkley.
In 1998, Nowitzki decided to make the move to North America and entered the NBA draft. The Milwaukee Bucks snagged him with the ninth-overall pick but promptly traded him to the Dallas Mavericks. There, Dirk teamed up with Steve Nash, setting the stage for an impressive career.
Despite some initial growing pains, Nowitzki developed into a star. He spent his entire 21-year career in Dallas, averaging 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per outing. He also won an NBA championship, claimed league MVP honors, and proved capable of doing just about anything on the hardwood.
Making more than $250 million with the Dallas Mavericks
When you become the face of an NBA franchise, that will always come with some serious perks. Look, for example, at the money Dirk Nowitzki made with the Dallas Mavericks.
According to Spotrac’s numbers, Nowitzki made just over $251 million during his NBA career. The forward only earned $1.47 million during his rookie season; at the peak of his powers, he took home $25 million for the 2016-17 campaign.
While more than $250 million in salary is nothing to sneeze at, Nowitzki left plenty of money on the table. Had the big man been willing to test the open market, instead of remaining loyal to Mark Cuban and the Mavericks, he could have made as much as $200 million more over the course of his career.
Dirk Nowitzki was rich but still brought his own ‘to-go plate’ to the game
With $250 million worth of salary in his pocket, Dirk Nowitzki could afford to eat virtually any pregame meal, whether it was provided by the Dallas Mavericks or not. During his NBA career, though, the forward preferred to keep things more down-to-earth.
When TV cameras showed Nowitizki arriving in the arena, he’d often be carrying a foil-wrapped plate in his hands. Was the big man simply a fan of home-cooking? Did was he trying to save a few bucks by eating last night’s leftovers before taking the court?
In 2015, Clair McNear of SBNation tried to get to the bottom of that very question. According to the Mavericks’ PR staff, Dirk simply knew exactly what he wanted to eat and had no problem providing it himself.
“Yes, in Dirk’s old age he has gotten very particular about his diet,” the team explained. “So, that said, he brings his own food to eat after the game. The plate that he always walks around with is his to-go plate that he brings his food on every game. He is a creature of habit, for sure.”
Not too many multi-millionaires are going to show up to work carrying their own doggy bag. Dirk Nowitzki, however, wasn’t your ordinary NBA star.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference