Three players have scored over 2,000 points, grabbed over 600 rebounds and shot over 90-percent from the free throw line in NBA history: Kevin Durant, Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki. Each of those guys have done it twice.
Nowitzki won his only MVP in 2007. That same year his first-place, 67-win Dallas Mavericks lost to the Golden State Warriors in the first round. Nowitzki had led the Mavericks to the 2006 Finals against the Miami Heat. Dallas won the first two games of that series. But the Heat won four straight to claim the title. Nowitzki had so many ups during those two years, but the downs outweighed those accomplishments. Those two years looked like Nowitzki’s best opportunities to win championships.
Dallas won 51 games following Dirk’s MVP season, and failed to make it out of the first round. The Mavericks fired head coach Avery Johnson, and hired Rick Carlisle. Dallas advanced past the first round once during Carlisle’s first three years. It wasn’t until Dallas added Tyson Chandler before the 2010-2011 season that Dallas finally shook away those consecutive years of heartbreak.
You know the story.
The third-seeded Mavericks beat Portland, LA Lakers and Oklahoma City before upsetting the Miami Heat to win the title. Dirk Nowitzki carried the offensive load as he averaged an astonishing 27 points a game. Dirk’s the only player in postseason history to score over 500 points while shooting at least 45 percent from 3, and 90 percent from the free throw line. Dirk Nowitzki led his team, and beat Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the process. Dirk Nowitzki beat four of the best seven or eight players since 2000 in the same postseason.
Nowitzki has the most win shares since he entered the NBA with 184.8. He trails on Kobe Bryant in points during that span. He also has played the most games, and the most minutes since the 1999-2000 season. With 26,786 career points, nine players have scored more career points than Dirk Nowitzki, and Dirk will surpass at least four of them before he retires, and he has a real chance of outscoring Wilt Chamberlain to become the fifth highest scorer in NBA history. But let’s not get carried away. Dirk will have to post similar numbers from last season (1,735 points in 80 games) over the next three seasons to pass Wilt. So, yeah Dirk’s one of the best scorers in NBA history. He shoots efficiently from all over the court, and consistently scores over 20 points a game.
He has one of the most dominant shots in NBA history. Dirk’s one-legged fadeaway cannot be stopped. It’s up there with Kareem’s skyhook, MJ’s fadeaway, Shaq’s drop step and Hakeem’s dream shake as the dominant moves in NBA history.
The knock on Dirk has been his inconsistent defense and his small play in big games. Dirk only has one title, and it’s not like Nowitzki was stuck in a poor situation like Kevin Garnett in Minnesota. The Mavericks won a whole lot of games. Since 2000, the Mavericks have the second most wins in the NBA. Dallas is sandwiched between the Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers who have combined to win seven titles since the 00-01 season. The Spurs had a killer defense in 2003, and in 2005 and 2007 their big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili had been the best trio in the NBA. The Spurs 2014 team had so much depth and offensive fire power. The Lakers had Shaq and Kobe, and then sorta played average once Shaq left, and then Pau Gasol and some really solid role players helped Kobe win two more. The Phoenix Suns had the NBA’s best offense for nearly the entire 2000s, and they couldn’t do what Dirk did (they couldn’t even make a Finals).
In the 2000s only two Eastern Conference teams won the championship: Detroit and Boston each one once. The West has been the dominant conference since the late 90s, and although the Heat have won two of the last three championships, the West has owned the NBA this century. I’m entirely sure if Dirk’s Mavericks played in the East they would have a few more than two Finals’ appearances.
I’ll run you through the All-Stars Dirk Nowitzki played with during his career so far:
Steve Nash made the All-Star team twice with Dirk Nowitzki before he signed with the Phoenix Suns
Michael Finley made the All-Star team twice but at the early stages of Dirk’s career… Finley and Nowitzki never made the All-Star team together.
So, during those wonderful years of Nowitzki’s prime the only two All-Stars (and they each made it once) was Josh Howard in 2007 and Jason Kidd in 2010.
If Dallas could’ve acquired another star in the mid-2000s, or if they had simply just kept Steve Nash, then maybe Dirk would have more than one championship. It’s all speculation, but it’s fun to at least entertain the idea of a world where Dirk and Nash win several titles.
That 2011 title team had a special vibe to it. It’s the perfect mix of star player with veteran talent. Guys like Peja Stojakovic and DeShawn Stevenson maximized their abilities playing around future Hall of Famers Jason Kidd, Nowitzki and Shawn Marion. It’s one of my favorite teams in NBA history because it really only had one star. Nowitzki was the only All-Star that season (Kidd made it with him the year prior). It was Nowitzki vs. Bosh, LeBron and Wade…. and Dirk won.
Dirk stuck with his initial team, and even though his team struggled to win big series he kept going back to Dallas, and eventually Dirk was rewarded.
It’s gratifying to hear about Dirk and his relationship with the Dallas Mavericks. Everybody speaks about Tim Duncan’s loyalty to San Antonio, but how about Nowitzki’s to Dallas? He took a gigantic pay cut so that Dallas could bring in a young and good small forward this offseason. All Dirk wants to do is win.
Eighteen players have scored more than 3,400 points in their playoff career. Dirk Nowitzki is one of those players despite playing in the second least amount of playoff games (Elgin Baylor has played in one fewer game than Dirk).
Dirk’s already solidified himself as one of the game’s greatest scorers. His longevity has been phenomenal, and it helps that he has a killer jumper. He’s one of the more unique players in NBA history, and is the best European player ever.