The Leadership of Dirk Nowitski: 11 Quotes and Principles All Leaders Can Learn From

The Dallas Mavericks are one win away from the NBA championship.  They are an interesting team from a leadership perspective.  Jason Kidd is commonly seen as the team’s leader.  Tyson Chandler is viewed as its emotional heartbeat.  But Dirk Nowitski is clearly the team’s best player and MVP.  He is a great leader as well. 

Dirk is not the classic leader we often see in sports.  He is not flashy but leads by example.  Let’s review the last several editions of Sports Illustrated to learn from his leadership skills.  All quotes are from Nowitski unless otherwise noted.

May 16th

  • Talent – “He has all the ability but none of the tools.” – Holger Gershwindner of the 16-year-old German youth league star.
  • Resilience – “Dirk is a very private person.  But he took a lot of arrows and went through a lot of pain.  Most people would have been broken.” – Donnie Nelson
  • Rest – Nowitzki begins each off-season by taking three to four weeks off to clear his head.  He begins an annual improvement strategy upon returning.

May 30th

  • Patience – “You learn not to get over-anxious.  Some nights you just have to wait and trust your time will come.”

June 5th

  • Support – “We needed somebody to make Dirk’s job easier.  That was Jason Kidd.  He was a godsend for Dirk.  He is the reason Dirk is fresher now.” – Nelson

Bonus – June 6th Sporting News

  • Ownership – “He took over.  He took over the basketball game like he is capable of doing…He’s probably the toughest guy to guard in the league.” – Scott Brooks
  • Responsibility – “That’s the thing about being a go-to guy.  It doesn’t really matter who the defender is on you.”
  • Continual Improvement – “The great ones come back every year with a new weapon or a new counter to one of the things that’s an important weapon to their game because teams are constantly adjusting to them.” – Rick Carlisle
  • Intelligence – “Nowitzki seems to have reached that intersection of talent and education, the optimal point in his career.” – Steve Greenberg
  • Respect – “You get a sense of wanting to win for Dirk because he has been here so long and he has been such a great player in the league for so long.  A championship is just the final piece.” – Chandler
  • Priorities – “If we don’t win it all this year, this would be a wasted year.  If you end the season on a loss…it’s disappointing, and it means I didn’t reach my goal.”

Talent, Resilience, Rest, Patience, Support, Ownership, Responsibility, Continual Improvement, Intelligence, Respect, Priorities.

Leaders, do you possess these 11 qualities?  If so, you too may be able to lead your team to great heights.

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.


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