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Dirk Nowitzki bummed about missing his would-have-been team, Kentucky, in Final Four

Apr 1, 2014, 12:40 PM EDT

Dirk Nowitzki, Anthony Davis

I’ve always been fascinated by where players who entered the NBA directly from high school would have gone to college. No matter how successful the player became, the “what if?” aspect intrigues me.

And in this alternate reality, McGrady might have had a pretty good teammate at Kentucky – Dirk Nowitzki.

Tim MacMahon of

Nowitzki claims Kentucky as his team despite never enrolling in a class or playing a minute of college basketball. That’s because he would have been a Wildcat if he hadn’t opted to declare for the 1998 NBA draft.

“It would have been a great time,” Nowitzki said. “They showed me around. I met some of the players. Scott Padgett was my host. I went to dinner with Tubby [Smith]. He was the coach back then. Holger wore his leather jacket to dinner, so everything was great.

“I visited in ’98, so they just won [a national title], so that would have been obviously a great program. But I decided to go straight pro and was lucky. You never know what’s going to happen. I think a year of college or two was going to be great, but the way it worked out here was awesome.”

It’s a pretty good year to be a Kentucky fan and even better year to be a Kentucky fan in Dallas. Behind future lottery pick Julius Randle and multiple other potential first rounders – Willie Cauley-Stein, James Young, Alex Poythress, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison – Kentucky has reached the Final Four at Jerry’s World in Arlington.

Kentucky plays Wisconsin on Saturday night, and if the Wildcats win, they’ll play for the national title Monday. But the Mavericks are on the road – at Clippers on Thursday, at Lakers on Friday, at Kings on Sunday and at Jazz on Tuesday – during the Final Four.

Nowitzki, via MacMahon:

“They screwed us over,” Nowitzki said. “We’re basically out of town the whole weekend. That’s unfortunate. I looked at the schedule obviously knowing that the Final Four was going to be here. We for sure would have gone one day, the whole team probably, so that’s disappointing.”

I suspect, if his Wildcats win it all, he’ll get over it.

  1. sdeweese18 - Apr 1, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    Kobe said he would’ve gone to Duke

    • sportsfan18 - Apr 1, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Because of Coach K.

      He likes K. Loved playing for him on the Olympic team…

  2. johndylanthe1st - Apr 1, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Second that. He’s said Duke. A lot.

    • psung26 - Apr 1, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      A lot is right.

      It’s not hard to find this info.

      “I’ve always been fascinated by where players who entered the NBA directly from high school would have gone to college.”

      I find it hard to believe you’ve given it that much thought…

    • nyheels29 - Apr 1, 2014 at 6:36 PM

      Except he hasn’t?

      He’s often been quoted in praise of Coach K and loves him.

      In terms of what he actually said, he stated on Jimmy Kimmel last year that he had decided on Carolina because he wanted to play against Vince Carter every day in practice.

  3. andreboy1 - Apr 1, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Imagine Kobe playing in college where he would have automatically been the top dog instead of dealing with Shaq and other grown men.

    He would have been out of control and impossible to coach but he would also have put up crazy numbers.

  4. partyallthetime1 - Apr 1, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    LeBron James would’ve went to UNC or Ohio State. He has said that several times. He might’ve been leaning towards UNC a little more. Also, Kevin Garnett wanted to go to UNC also.

  5. partyallthetime1 - Apr 1, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    I heard LeBron said that on Larry King. I never knew this, but I found a quote that Kobe said on Jimmy Kimmel that he would’ve picked UNC over Duke. He wanted to have to play against Vince Carter everyday.

  6. partyallthetime1 - Apr 1, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    Oops… I meant I heard LeBron say that on Larry King.

  7. cj1403 - Apr 1, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Kobe has always said he loves Coach K but about a year ago he did an interview and was asked thats question, and he said North Carolina. I assume to be like MJ.

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      Actually to be like Vince Carter. Seriously.

  8. nyheels29 - Apr 1, 2014 at 6:34 PM

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