J.C. Derrick: Inspiration from the little things

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, April 16th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Ever think bad news gets all the press? Well, WORLD Radio’s managing editor J.C. Derrick found something inspiring behind the scenes in the life of a pro athlete.

J.C. DERRICK, MANAGING EDITOR: Sports can often take up too much space in our lives. But sports can also provide a great escape from the sadness that comes with living in a fallen world.

What else can lift a nation’s spirits like a big Olympic win?

MICHAELS: Do you believe in miracles?! YES!

Or provide a story better than fiction. Like Kurt Warner going from grocery stocker to NFL MVP.

ANNOUNCER: The St. Louis Rams are world champions!

A lot of built-in attention comes with being a sports star. Some handle it well. Others don’t.

Dirk Nowitzki definitely belongs in the first category.

Now if you’re not a basketball fan, you might not know the name—or realize that last week he played his last game in the NBA.

Nowitzki wrapped up what was easily one of the best careers in league history. He finished No. 6 all-time in scoring—just 700 points behind Michael Jordan.

He was a league MVP, a Finals MVP, and a 14-time all-star.

Dirk, as everyone called him, arrived in Texas from Germany as a skinny kid in 19-98. He was just 20. He would go on to do something no other NBA player has ever done: spend 21 years playing for one team.

That’s one team, one city, one community. And no scandals.

That loyalty didn’t happen by accident. He repeatedly took pay cuts so the Dallas Mavericks could afford to bring in other talent. It paid off with an NBA title in 20-11—the only major sports championship the city has had in the last two decades.

Dirk had incredible talent and drive to be the best he could be. But for all the basketball memories, it’s his reputation off the court that won him the most praise over the last week. He was known as a humble player who cared even about the locker room attendants.

He also started the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation to lift up children who are struggling with poor health, poverty, and neglect.

His unpublicized visits to a local children’s hospital were the stuff of legend. He brought Christmas gifts, but he also spent hours posing for pictures and playing games. The kids called him “Uncle Dirk.”

There’s plenty wrong with the world—but that’s partly why it’s so important to stop and recognize the good. Virtues like loyalty, humility, generosity, and selflessness don’t get nearly enough attention.

So, thank you, Dirk. For the memories and the example.

MUSIC: [Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)]

For WORLD Radio, I’m J.C. Derrick.

(AP Photo/Darren Abate) Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki waves to fans after the team’s NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in San Antonio.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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