By my count, the last vestiges of the 1990s signed to NBA contracts for the 2015-16 season are Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Andre Miller and Jason Terry.
That octet may be the league's last to remember what it's like to respool a cassette tape with a No. 2 pencil. Younguns like D'Angelo Russell and Justise Winslow weren't even born when Oasis released "Wonderwall," so not only is their idea of a mixtape merely a YouTube highlight reel, their texts are written with iPhones rather than Dixon Ticonderogas. The Devin Bookers of the NBA world certainly don't get the hullabaloo over the recent divorce filings of No Doubt's Gwen Stefani and Bush's Gavin Rossdale.
But for those of us who heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and thought, "This Kurt Cobain guy just gets me, y'know," we feel Nowitzki's pain as he reveals to Awesome Boring podcast hosts Adam McKay and Adam Davidson, via CBS Sports writer Ananth Pandian, that he sang the Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones" to ease the tension of clutch free throws during the early days of an NBA career that began on Feb. 5, 1999.
Nowitzki: "I got this coach of mine and his idea one time when I missed a couple pressure free throws, a while back, and he said, 'I think you're a little too tense. You're trying to focus too much. Why don't you try singing a song at the line?' And I looked at him like he was out of his mind. Then, I actually tried it sometimes and it worked."
Host: "Is there one song that you probably sing more than any other song?"
Nowitzki: "You know, I haven't done it in a few years. That was more when I was a younger player. Counting Crows, "Mr. Jones," I don't know why that song, but I love that song. I still love that song. That song always came in my mind."
Now, "Mr. Jones" is not a great song — and isn't even the best by the Counting Crows ("Mrs. Potter's Lullaby"?) — but much like many a nineties tune, it's catchy as all hell. Nowitzki couldn't help but break into song on the podcast: "Mr. Jones strikes up a conversation with the black-haired flamenco dancer."
The dulcet tones of Adam Duritz seem to have worked, too, as Nowitzki has never shot below 80 percent in the 16 seasons since his rookie year, climbing into the NBA's all-time for free throws made in a career.
Faced with a similar predicament in 1999, my decision probably would've come down to Blues Traveler's "Run-Around" and Hootie & the Blowfish's "Only Wanna Be With You" when it would've been a lot cooler to choose between Radiohead and the Flaming Lips, so I'm fully on board with Dirk's decision here.
Although, I'm surprised he didn't go with David Hasselhoff's "Looking for Freedom," given his history.
Now excuse me while I try to stop singing, "If I had a million dollars, well, I'd buy you a shooting coach."
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