The Dallas Mavericks were transformed by Dirk Nowitzki. They had not made the playoffs since 1990 and topped 30 wins just once in that stretch before acquiring Dirk in 1998 draft-night trade. The 19-year-old struggled as a rookie adjusting to the NBA and life in America, but he quickly blossomed into a superstar that changed the franchise, his position, and basketball.
Dirk’s crowning achievement was leading the Mavericks to the 2011 NBA championship, but he accomplished it all in his 21-year career. He won the MVP in 2007, made 14 All-Star teams, and was on the All-NBA teams 12 times. Nowitzki’s 31,560 career points are the sixth most all-time, and he defines greatness. He also was the first European superstar in the NBA.
The NBA is celebrating its 75th anniversary this season, and Dirk was named an ambassador for the league along with being one of the 75 best players in league history. To go along with the celebration, The Athletic is ranking the best 75 (subscription required), and Dirk found himself at 21 on the list. Here is a look at why that is too low.
Dirk Nowitzki lands 21st in The Athletic’s NBA 75: Why it is too low
Nowitzki only has one championship, but his loyalty to the Mavericks made him a franchise icon that other players want to emulate. He is revered in the city of Dallas, and his 21 years is the most a player has ever played for one franchise.
Dirk is far more than just the sixth-best scorer of all time. He is third in career minutes played, 13th in 3-pointers made, and 27th in total rebounds. Nowitzki was a pioneer as a seven-footer firing threes and stretching the floor. Now, every team in the league has a stretch four after Dirk’s success.
He also paved the way for European superstars like Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and others. They all wanted to be like Dirk and are now dominating the NBA.
There have been so many great players in NBA history, but Dirk Nowitzki deserves to be in the top 15 all-time. His durability, longevity, and skill made him the Dallas Mavericks GOAT and a legend. It is a massive honor to be named the 21st best player of all time.
Dallas Mavericks fans had a chance to honor Dirk earlier this season during his jersey retirement. He will be a massive part of All-Star weekend too. It is always fantastic to see Nowitzki getting the props he deserves. Hopefully, he is enjoying his retirement, and thanks for everything, Dirk.