Dirk Nowitzki may have put German basketball on the map, but it was Dennis Schröder who led the country to the apex of the sport’s grandest stage.
For that, Mannschaft head coach Gordie Herbert believes it’s time for everyone, especially the people of Germany, to finally give the 29-year-old guard, who poured his heart and soul into the team, his well-deserved recognition.
“I mean, Dirk [Nowitzki] was obviously a tremendous player. Dennis is great as something in Germany,” said Herbert following Germany’s win over Serbia in the gold medal match of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena last Sunday.
“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-percent respect in Germany,” added the Canadian-Finnish tactician.
To top it all off, the Toronto Raptors guard outperformed NBA superstars Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Canada), Anthony Edwards (USA), and Serbia’s main man Bogdan Bogdanovic, to win the Most Valuable Player award.
Schröder served as the fulcrum of Germany’s unbeaten run to its first-ever World Cup title, averaging 19.1 points, 6.1 assists, and 2.0 rebounds in eight games played.
Herbert also credited the former Los Angeles Lakers program for turning around the Mannschaft’s program, sharing that his first meeting with Schröder in September 2021 sparked Germany’s pivotal turn towards success.
“I think this goes back to 2021 when I got the job. My first task was to drive to Braunschweig and meet Dennis [Schröder] in September 2021. We talked for three or four hours, and that’s where it all started,” said the ex-Skyliners Frankfurt coach.
“That’s where it started. I felt his heart, his commitment, his care for his country, for his national team, for his teammates, and for me, that’s where it all started,” he added.
The former FIBA Europe Cup champion coach insisted that he has no intentions of diminishing Nowitzki’s contributions to the cause.
After all, it was Nowitzki who led Germany to a third place finish in the World Championship in 2003 and a silver finish in Eurobasket a couple of years later. Moreover, the German icon also paved the way for the likes of Daniel Theis and the Wagner brothers to be in the NBA.
“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,” said Herbert.
“You know, I think we have to. You know, Dirk was before, Dennis is now. With complete respect to Dirk, Dennis has taken over. MVP. World Championships. Gold medal. He deserves 100-percent respect for what he’s done and where he’s taken this team.”