‘Similar to Kobe’: Former Mavericks Teammate JJ Barea Gives a Glimpse of Mamba Mentality Inside Dirk Nowitzki

Published 01/01/2021, 7:00 AM EST
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 26: Laker Kobe Bryant #24 as the Lakers beat the Jazz 107-96 to win the series during game five of a first round Western Conference playoff basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Monday April 27, 2009 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)


When you think of legendary NBA players who spent their entire careers with a single franchise in this century, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki arethe names, other than Tim Duncan, who come to mind. Thus, it is no surprise that the two acknowledged each other’s greatness.

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JJ Barea, who last played for the Dallas Mavericks, was making an appearance on JJ Reddick‘s Podcast. The Puerto Rican was teammates with Dirk during their title-winning run in 2011.

He revealed the extreme lengths that the German went to ensure his longevity in the sport, “I used to watch Dirk. I was like, ‘If I do 25% of what he does, I am good.'”

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Further, he drew parallels to his work ethic to that of LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who was notorious for being a hard-worker who pushed boundaries to maintain his edge. According to Barea, they tried to emulate each other –

“It was similar to Kobe. Him and Kobe used to talk a lot. They were fans of each other. They talked about workouts, they did, and that. So yeah, I heard a bunch of stories about Kobe being like Dirk and Dirk being like Kobe.”

Dirk was maniacal about his preparation like Kobe Bryant

DALLAS, TX – MARCH 07: Dirk Nowitzki #41 runs down court after scoring his 30,000 career point in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center on March 7, 2017 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

While Kobe played for a single franchise for 20 years, Dirk trumped him by donning the Mavs jersey for 21 years. This required a dedication to diet and a strict workout regime. But sometimes, his teammates had to hold him back for over-working before a game.

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So, divulging on his ‘crazy’ routine, JJ Barea said –

“The craziest preparation ever man, it was insane. We used to have meetings with him the night before games. And be like ‘Yo Dirk, you can’t go to the gym tonight, you can’t go’. He’s like ‘no, I gotta get my routine’. I am like ‘We need you fresh for tomorrow, you can’t go tonight’.”

10 April 2019, US, Dallas: Basketball: NBA, Main Round, 81st Matchday, Dallas Mavericks – Phoenix Suns at Amercian Airlines Center. Marc Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and Dirk Nowitzki after his last home game. Photo: Philipp Hülsmann/dpa (Photo by Philipp Hülsmann/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Two astute legends of the game, both of whom overcame eastern powerhouses to win the Championship for their teams. Dirk’s one-man uphill mission against the Miami Heat is similar to Kobe’s against the Boston Celtics. And their legend shines as bright as a sunny afternoon.

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Bharat Aggarwal

706 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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