Competing in the NBA for over two decades has provided Dirk Nowitzki a unique perspective on how the priorities of players have come to change during a career that's spanned generations.
The Dallas Mavericks veteran feels today's crop of talent is too focused on establishing an online following, but admits it could simply be a sign of the times.
"I don't know if it's about winning as much anymore as it is looking good on Instagram, Twitter, having followers and having clicks and likes," Nowitzki told The Athletic's Frank Isola. "I do agree 20 years ago people weren't on their phones as much."
His remarks were in response to league commissioner Adam Silver saying at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference that players were "truly unhappy," with social media being a primary culprit.
Nowitzki recalled former teammate Harrison Barnes telling him how the Golden State Warriors - who Barnes suited up for from 2012-16 - would make the first player to use their cell phone at a team dinner pay their teammates money.
"I like that," Nowitzki said. "But I'm not going to blame everything on social media. We're all competitors. I usually based my happiness on winning and losing. When we won it was fun. We would play music after games. When we lost we were pissed. That's what I based my happiness on.
"Guys would sit around the locker room waiting for the coach to talk and during that wait there would be conversations taking place. Now it is 15 guys on their phones. There's not much time being spent together. But I'm not sure about the whole happy, unhappy thing."