J.J. Barea reflects on Dirk Nowitzki's 'maniacal' practice routine


It helps your case as an NBA player if you're seven feet tall and can shoot from long-range, but Dirk Nowitzki wasn't just made that way. He didn't just grow up with the ability to shoot 38 percent from three-point land on over 5,000 attempts throughout his career. He didn't perfect his impossible-to-replicate and even more impossible-to-guard turnaround Js without putting in the effort he needed in order to do so.

No, he put in a ton of work to become the dominant scorer that he was. According to teammate J.J. Barea and longtime opponent J.J. Redick, his tendencies for getting up shots in the gym were "maniacal." The two discussed the future Hall of Famer's ethic on the latest episode of "The Old Man and the Three," co-hosted by Tommy Alter.

"...I used to watch Dirk. I was like, yo, if I do 25 percent of what he does, I'm good," Barea said, with a laugh. "If I shoot 25 percent of what he shoots, I'm going to be straight."

And Barea wasn't talking about his shooting percentage. He was talking about the vast quantity of shots that Nowitzki would put up in practice sessions before the next game.

"It was the craziest preparation ever, man. It was insane," Barea recalled. "We used to have meetings with him the night before games to (say) like, 'yo Dirk, you can't go to the gym tonight. You can't go.'

"He's like, 'no, I gotta go get my routine.' I'm like 'no, we need you fresh for tomorrow, you can't go tonight.' And it was always like that argument. We always had fights with him about it."

Sound familiar? It sure did to Redick and Alter, who immediately drew comparisons to another great one: Kobe Bryant. Business Insider's Scott Davis and Connor Perrett compiled 24 examples of Kobe's intense work ethic after the all-time great passed away earlier in 2020, including the tidbit where Michael Jordan himself said that Kobe had worked hard enough to earn a comparison to MJ. Any comparison to Kobe in terms of work ethic and drive to get better through practice can't be made casually, and it seems as though Dirk truly did have that same approach.

"It was similar to Kobe in a way. [He] and Kobe used to talk a lot, and they were fans of each other," Barea said. "...I heard a bunch of stories about Kobe being like Dirk and Dirk being like Kobe."

It's no coincidence that they're both remembered — and will always be remembered — as two of the greatest players the league has ever seen, and this is just one testament to that honor.

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