Schroder deserves same respect as Nowitzki after leading Germany to gold, says coach
MANILA, Philippines — For Germany coach Gordie Herbert, Dennis Schroder deserves to share the spotlight with German legend Dirk Nowitzki as two of the greatest basketball players to ever play for their country.
Schroder and the Germans earned their first-ever James Naismith trophy after completing an eight-game sweep in the Fiba World Cup with an 83-77 win over Serbia in front of 12,022 fans at Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday night.
Schroder also emerged as the World Cup MVP, becoming the second German to win the award since Nowitzki in the 2002 competition in Indianapolis, where the country last made it to the podium with a bronze medal.
After the German guard led the squad to a historic run, Herbert believes Schroder deserves the same respect as Nowitzki, whose national team jersey No. 14 was immortalized after playing from 1997 to 2015.
“Dirk was obviously a tremendous player. Dennis is great. Give him credit. He’s won the world championship with this team, he’s become the leader of this team. It’s time that we give him 100% respect in Germany,” said Herbert. “He’s done something that nobody else has done in Germany and I think people will realize that now in Germany, what he’s done and what he’s meant to German basketball and how he’s become a leader of this team.”
Herbert added that the NBA veteran, who was also part of the Fiba All-Star Five after averaging 19.1 points and 6.1 assists, has become the new face of German basketball.
“With complete respect to Dirk, Dennis has taken over. MVP. World Championship. Gold medal. He deserves 100% respect for what he’s done and where he’s taken this team,” he said.
The 29-year-old Schroder, who rose to the occasion with 28 points in the final, admitted that he wasn’t a big fan of Nowitzki at first.
“I would lie if I said that growing up, I watched him a lot. He wasn’t my idol really because he’s not my position. I watched a lot of Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Mike Conley,” he said.
But when he got to know the Dallas Mavericks legend, who is a member of the NBA’s 75th anniversary team and now a Fiba Central Board member, it changed his life forever
“When I got older, and I got to the league, he was amazing. I got to the league and he said right away, take my number down. I had a draft workout in Dallas, and he said take my number, dial whenever you need, text me, call me. Since then, we got a good relationship. Whenever I see something that he’s been doing great on, I text him and vice-versa,” Schroder said. “Nothing but love for him and the career he had. Best four-man ever. Changed the game of basketball. Won NBA championship and also MVP. He was amazing.”
The Toronto Raptors guard felt honored to be in the same conversation as Nowitzki but he attributed Germany’s success to the whole team.
“Surpassing that is great, it is a great achievement for the federation and for every single player in the locker room. We wouldn’t have done it if we weren’t a team. Shoutout to everybody in that locker room, coaches of course, training staff, and everyone in the front office. It’s been great,” he said.