Dirk Nowitzki changed the NBA's perception of international talent

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The Dallas Mavericks forward joined one of the most exclusive clubs in basketball history, becoming just the sixth NBA player to score 30,000 career points.
USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki’s influences are simple, extensive and far-reaching.

When Nowitzki entered the league in 1998, he was one of 38 international players from 27 countries on NBA rosters, according to the NBA. When the 2016-17 season started, he was one of an NBA-record 113 international players from an NBA-record 41 countries.

“For the first time this year, we made somewhat of a significant leap in the number of international players in this league,” NBA Commissioner Silver said. “We climbed from roughly 20% of the league, players that were born outside the United States, to 25%, and those numbers are only going to continue to grow. If you look at last year’s draft, nearly 50% of the players in our two-round draft were born outside of the United States as well.”

The league…

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