Superfan from China matches his NBA idol’s record

It took Dirk Nowitzki, the towering Dallas Mavericks basketball star from Germany, 19 seasons to score 30,000 points and cement his place among the other greatest scorers in National Basketball Association history.

It took superfan Shen Xu, 27, from Tianjin, China, just 100 days to duplicate his idol’s feat.

Well, sort of.

Shen Xu slapping hands with Dirk Nowitzki in arena (State Dept./Ralph Lauer)
Shen Xu slaps hands with Nowitzki during pregame introductions. (State Dept./Ralph Lauer)

The 37-year-old, 7-foot (2.13-meter) Nowitzki eclipsed the 30,000-point mark in March, joining Michael Jordan and four other American legends. The Würzburg, Germany, native, who led his team to the NBA championship in 2011, is arguably the greatest foreigner to play the game invented in the United States but popular around the world.

Shen Xu cheering at basketball game (Sate Dept./Ralph Lauer)
Xu dreamed of attending a game before Nowitzki retires. He got his wish and more. (State Dept./Ralph Lauer)

In China, where hundreds of NBA games are broadcast on television, few people are bigger fans than Xu, an exuberant entrepreneur who decided to honor Nowitzki’s feat by scoring 30,000 unguarded baskets himself in the space of 100 days. He brought a scoreboard to an outdoor court, recorded it all and posted videos online. The Mavericks retweeted them and invited Xu to Dallas to meet Nowitzki and shoot his 30,000th basket at their arena.

Salah Mejri signing autograph in arena (State Dept./Ralph Lauer)
Mavs center Salah Mejri, who is Tunisian, autographs a hat for Xu and his wife, Licco Lee. (State Dept./Ralph Lauer)

“The biggest reason I love the Mavs is no matter if it’s a great season or a tough one, in every game you see how they never ever give up,” Xu said. “The most beautiful part of basketball is seeing teams fight all the way to the final buzzer.”

Xu notched his 30,000th basket on the American Airlines Center court before a Mavericks game. “YESSSS!” proclaimed the public address announcer, adding, “Notice he was doing a Dirk fadeaway” — the one-legged jump shot for which Nowitzki is famous.

He hopes to inspire others to pursue big dreams.

Shen Xu and Dirk Nowitzki arm in arm (Dallas Mavericks/Danny Bollinger)
Xu got to meet his hero, Nowitzki, one of the NBA’s all-time greats, before a game. (Dallas Mavericks/Danny Bollinger)

“It’s kind of magical,” Xu said. “Our generation of Chinese kids is always portrayed by the media as having energy and emotion but lacking responsibility and persistence. So maybe my doing this project, even something this small, can help break that stereotype.”