Can any NBA fan imagine what the league would be like if German legend Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t a Dallas Maverick lifer? I mean, it’s almost impossible right, visualizing Dirk in any jersey other than a Mavs one?
Well, back in 2002, Nowitzki’s career trajectory could’ve been very different compared to what it turned out to be.
Back in the early 2000’s, behind the might of Vince Carter, the Toronto Raptors were experiencing their first taste of success in the NBA. Five years after their inception in 1995, the Raptors were finally making the postseason consistently and may have even had title aspirations a couple of those years with Carter at his athletic peak.
Carter was so valuable to the franchise in fact, that according to former Raptors GM Glen Grunwald, back in 2002 he denied a potential trade that would’ve sent both Dirk Nowitzki and Canada’s own Steve Nash to Toronto in exchange for Carter and Antonio Davis.
“Grunwald said he had a chance to trade Vince Carter and Antonio Davis the Dallas Mavericks for Nash and Nowitzki, but rejected the deal.”
In hindsight, it’s quite possible this move may have won the Toronto Raptor’s their first ever title given how both Dirk and Nash panned out — 3 MVP awards, 21 All-Star appearances and 1 championship between them — but at the time, many would argue the decision to decline the trade was the right move to make.
Back in 2002, Carter was the talk of the NBA world, having two All-Star appearances under his belt at the age of 23, and was one win away from an Eastern Conference Finals appearance the year prior. Meanwhile, in Dallas, both Nowitzki and Nash had yet to appear in an All-Star game at all.
So Raptors fans, just because you missed out on a two-for-one Hall of Famer trade in the early 2000’s, it doesn’t mean your franchise is a complete failure. At least you didn’t do something stupid like put Isiah Thomas in as head coach.