Most UK fans know about Dirk Nowitzki. The 13-time All-Star with the Dallas Mavericks has had quite the career in the NBA, currently sitting at sixth on the all-time scoring list. He was an MVP in 2007 and brought a championship to Dallas in 2011, along with being named Finals MVP.
He also nearly became a Kentucky Wildcat. Following the Wildcats’ 1998 championship, then-UK Head Coach Tubby Smith brought Nowitzki to Lexington on an official visit. According to Chris Fisher at 247 Sports, Scott Padgett and Saul Smith hosted Nowitzki on that official visit.
Of course, we all know that Nowitzki chose not to play college basketball in the U.S., and went on to the NBA Draft, where he was the ninth overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks and then traded to the Mavericks.
There are plenty of visions of “what might have been” if Nowitzki had decided to play basketball at Kentucky, with fans envisioning him being a match-up nightmare in Rupp Arena as a 7-footer that could knock down jump shots at a time when that wasn’t exactly a routine thing.
You may remember Nowitzki opening up about his interest in the Kentucky basketball program during Kentucky’s 2014 Final Four run.
Recently, Nowitzki did an interview with KSTV Sports where he talked about his Kentucky fandom again.
Nowitzki said that he “always claims Kentucky” and “always wishes them luck.”
"I always say I would've gone to Kentucky. It just didn't work out that way," Nowitzki told KSTV Sports, "but it's about as close to the NBA as it gets."
A 1998-1999 Kentucky team with Jamaal Magloire, Wayne Turner, Scott Padgett, Heshimu Evans, Tayshaun Prince, and Dirk Nowitzki definitely would have been an intriguing squad. Oh, the possibilities...