In terms of the Dallas Mavericks folklore, there are few figures of greater intrigue than Holger Geschwindner. We know that he’s a mentor and close friend to Dirk Nowitzki, and depending on exactly how familiar you are with Dirk’s basketball origin story, you may know a bit more than that. Geschwindner essentially manufactured Nowitzki’s NBA career by teaching him skills, showcasing his talents, and putting him in situations to showcase his abilities (like the now famous Nike Hoop Summit that Dirk obliterated, with 33 points, 14 rebounds, and a win over the American prospects). But aside from those legends, what do we really know about Holger Geschwindner, the man more responsible for bringing Dirk to the NBA than anyone aside from Nowitzki himself?
Well, after you read this interview with him by SLAM’s Nima Zarrabi, you’ll know quite a bit. Not just about how he built the path for Nowitzki’s stardom, but also plenty about Geschwindner. Most of the Dirk narrative is well-documented, but to learn a bit about the man behind The Man is a pretty unique thing. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Geschwindner is every bit the old wizard I hoped he’d be:
SLAM: What did you love about the game?
HG: What attracted me the most was that the sport was theoretically constructed. There was an idea. It’s not like soccer where the ball is rolling out and everybody is trying to kick it. It’s a sport that goes in three dimensions. Most of the other sports had a pretty natural basis. If something’s rolling on the floor, you kick it. But hanging up a big construction 10 feet above the ground and to try and shoot a ball, it was strange. It was a challenge.
SLAM: The sport challenged your mind?
HG: Yes. I like music a lot and when I looked into the basketball rules it made sense. You only get two steps with the ball—there are limitations. High art has strict limitations or strict rules. Take dances for instance, like the waltz. Basketball was attractive to me. It’s the No. 1 sport for me. I love the game.