"To me, he's the number one player over the 15 years I've been in the league," said Nowitzki to Grantland's Zach Lowe.
"I was always a huge fan of Kobe," Nowitzki said. "Obviously, he's now on the declining end, like most of us older guys, but the stuff he does ... they are never out of a game."
Nowitzki said he often tunes in to watch Bryant and the Lakers.
"When I get home, at like 11 p.m., I know the fourth quarter will just be starting in L.A., and I'll sit down and watch him basically will his team to win with some incredible shots."
The Mavericks (22-29) are just two games behind the Lakers (25-28) in the standings. Both teams have significant ground to make up if they want to catch the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets and/or Portland Trail Blazers to make the playoffs.
Nowitzki and the Mavericks defeated the Lakers en route to their title in 2011. The Lakers visit Dallas on Feb. 24.ALSO: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.