Q&A with Holger Geschwindner, the Shot Doctor.
Berlin, Aug. 6
-- Granted, there are many ways to practice 3-point shooting. Just ask Dirk Nowitzki. Ever since meeting his mentor Holger Geschwindner, the Dallas Mavericks star has probably come across some of the most unusual ways. A former German international who now runs a project management business, Holger has combined his great knowledge for the game, mathematic calculations and intuition to make Dirk a deadly shooter.
Q: Is the American Dirk different from the European Dirk?
Holger Geschwindner: Not at all. It is the same person.
Q: How is his role on the national different from the one on the Mavs then? He is – by far - the only star in Germany.
HG: It´s not different in the U.S. But the game is completely different. The court is smaller, the rules are different. We need to change his game. It doesn´t really help if your best player gets called for travelling all the time. It´s not that easy to adapt to FIBA basketball. It´s a shame that there are different rules. It would be better to have common rules like in soccer.
Q: How did you get over the disappointing season ending?
HG: Wins and losses are part of the game. I must admit it was disappointing after going all the way to the Finals and winning the first two games. Our goal now is to have another shot at the title soon.
Q: You´ve got a seven-step plan for Dirk. Where he is now?
HG: We keep doing new things for Dirk to keep improving next season. With the season stretching all the way to mid-June, we´ve had some troubles getting back into swing but I am sure we´ll get it done until the World Championship starts. And then we´ll see what happens.
Q: A break of just three weeks appears to be rather short. Do you think it could affect his performance for the Mavericks at some point of next season?
HG: No, I don´t think so. We have shown in the last couple of years that is has always been part of his developmental process. I think if you stop playing completely, it will take you longer to regain the same old level of form. We´re just trying to cut the breaks to help Dirk keeping his level up.
Q: How´s it going then?
HG: Well, it´s like a regeneration on a higher level. We´re doing the same things but on a higher level. You need to explore the game more and more if basketball is your profession.
Q: He stayed scoreless in the first half against Turkey despite playing 15 out of 20 minutes. Has it ever happened before?
HG: Yeah, it is nothing new. But he lacks practice and needs to find his rhythm. There is still enough time left. Look at the French. They´ve got five NBA players and are still struggling. You just have to make sure you´re getting in swing soon.
Q: How did you rebuild Dirk´s confidence after the NBA Finals?
HG: To build something up or down – that is the vocabulary of middlebrows! It´s a different thinking on this level. Athletes win or lose at the end of the day. In the Spurs series all the games were so close and we were lucky in the end. It was different against Miami. The public and the media will haunt him for the rest of his life but that does not mean we´re making a bigger deal out it than it factually was.
Q: Dirk didn´t seem to find his shooting touch in the Finals.
HG: You have to take into consideration that we eliminated the Spurs and that he chalked up 50 points when it mattered most against the Suns. It´s a little bit difficult keep that level for 120 games. And Miami knew that if they controlled Dirk, they have a good chance to win. They had three men on him which is something we will be working on. And also his teammates, who used to shoot well from the field, didn´t hit a thing. It´s impossible to do it all on your own.
Q: What do you expect from Dirk in Japan and for next season?
HG: That he reaches the next level, a level that can not be mirrored my stats. Like a better shot selection and smarter decision making. He carries a lot of responsibility. They expect him to control the game in difficult situations. And that is something where he needs to improve now with all his experience.
Q: Are you telling us that even Dirk Nowitzki still has something to learn?
HG: Most certainly so, and quite a lot. Everybody who knows him knows where he can improve. But it´s impressive to where he is at already.
Q: He just led the Mavs to the Finals. What happens once he´s finished with your seven-phase plan after all?
HG: That is purely theoretical. We try to push his talents as far as possible. We don´t compare him to other players. If they are better, then fine, we can accept that. But if they are worse, it´s not our problem. We have a theoretical goal to get the best out of him. We´re open to innovations and try to add it to his game if they seem to be a useful tool. But we did look neither left nor right. We know what he´s capable of doing.
Q: And his future is with the Mavericks?
HG: He has two years left on his contract and now there´s the offer to sign an early extension. We´ll have to see what we do. Everything has gone well with Dallas thus far. Now they have a new team and you have to see how the preparation goes and whether they can repeat their success.
Q: Will the Mavs be stronger than last year?
HG: You´ll have to wait and see how the trades go. If you look at the names, they have improved, gotten younger and added more experience. It remains to be seen whether they can be turned into a team.