Dirk: An International Treasure

Story by: Dimitri Tzamaras

The NBA’s original European-unicorn went for 25 points and 11 rebounds last night in just 24 minutes for the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs beat the Los Angeles Lakers to the tune of 122-111. The story of the night however, occurred with 10:58 seconds to go in the second quarter:

Dirk catches a pass near the Mavs bench along the baseline with Larry Nance Jr. tight to his hip guarding him. After a couple of jab steps to get some space, Dirk fires away… swish. And with that bucket, the German 7-footer joined an elite basketball fraternity: the 30,000-point club.

There’s now six members of this illustrious club: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlin (31,419), and of course, after last night, Dirk Nowitzki (30,005 and counting).

To put this amazing accomplishment into perspective here is a stat I heard while listening to “The Starters NBA Twitter Show” yesterday: More MLB hitters have hit more than 600 home-runs (8 players) and more NFL running backs have scored more than 100 touchdowns (also 8 players) than NBA player’s scoring over 30,000 career points (just the six guy’s named above).

The thing is, Dirk has always felt like an underappreciated super-star in a league where super-stars are typically put on a pedestal. His shining accomplishment is his 2011 Finals performance against the first-iteration of the Miami Heat’s Big 3. In that series, Dirk outplayed LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade with an astounding 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 assists per game, leading the Mavs to one of the biggest Finals’ upsets in NBA history.

He’s been named an all-NBA player 12 times in 18 seasons, won the MVP in 2006-2007, led the Mavs to 897 regular season wins and 16 straight winning seasons. The faces around him in Dallas have changed throughout the years but he has remained the constant face and heartbeat of the entire organization.

Here is how he currently ranks in some major categories in NBA history:

  • 15th all-time in 3-pointers made
  • 9th all-time in defensive rebounds
  • 6th all-time in points
  • 23rd all-time in player efficiency rating
  • 8th all-time in win shares

He has changed how the league views big men and their skill sets, especially when evaluating young European bigs. His signature one leg fade-away is one of the most iconic and well-recognized shots in NBA history, right up there with the Tim Duncan bank shot, Kareem’s hook, and Kobe’s patented “ignore my open teammates and take this highly contested mid-range turn-around jumper”.

Dirk has been a beacon of joy since entering the league in 1998-1999. The German big man will go down, for my money, as the greatest European player in NBA history, with a resume that will be tough to top. He runs one of the best player NBA Twitter accounts, and is just an awesome, all-around guy.

I love Dirk Nowitzki, truly an international treasure by any standards.

Featured image for this post courtesy of TheHoopDoctors.com

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