Last night’s ceremony to retire Dirk Nowitzki’s No. 41 made me cry. More than once. I hate it when my wife catches me sports-crying. “Oh, you’re crying,” she’ll say, with mock sincerity. “Are you OK, honey?” Last night I was like, “It’s the COVID! Haven’t you read about the watery eyes thing?!”
Anyway, the ceremony was great. Dirk was wonderful. I agree with everything Zac said earlier. I love that guy. (Dirk, not Zac.) Having established all that, the statue sucks.
There. I said it. I know some people on Twitter have said it. But I said it with WordPress.
It all comes down, in my ledger, to the balls. This is a family blog, so I won’t discuss here how the balls, strung together as they are, resemble a certain type of bead that is used for non-necklace purposes. Do some Googling if you’re curious. I’ll just stick to the sheer number of balls this statue has. If my maths are right, what we’re looking at here is 200 percent more balls than we need.
I want you to consider some other famous basketball statues. Have a look at Jerry West. So iconic that he became the NBA’s logo. The ball in his hand, utterly within his control, mid-dribble. Did the artist feel the need to give us a few more balls so that we understand West is dribbling? No. West’s body position, his dynamic lean, tells us all we need to know about what the future holds for that ball. It’s about to hit the floor.
So, too, with the famous Michael Jordan statue. We all understand: Jordan is about to dunk that ball. We don’t need two more balls to answer the question “What happens next with that ball?” because no one has that question. That’s the beauty of the statue.
Here’s a question for you: did Michelangelo add two extra balls to his statue of David? You get my point.
I have one last beef with this statue. OK, say you decide people won’t be able to understand that Dirk is shooting the ball, and to communicate what’s happening, you need to include two extra balls. I disagree, but for the sake of argument, let’s say we arrive at that conclusion. It then becomes super important that the three balls describe an arc that results in a basket. Which brings me to the following illustration:
Like I mentioned earlier, I have COVID, which means I’ve been stuck at home this week and unable to access the powerful computer resources available at D Magazine world headquarters. So I had to lay this out on my kitchen floor, which obviously needs to be cleaned. No matter. I plugged the applicable variables into y = h + xtan(α) – gx²/2V₀²cos²(α) to prove that, based on the arc described by the position of the two superfluous balls in the statue as it is currently imagined, Dirk is about to shoot an airball.
This is unacceptable. Mark Cuban, it’s not too late. The city of Dallas—and Dirk Nowitzki—deserve better.