Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is commonly referred to as the greatest European player in NBA history, as well as one of the best foreign players the league has ever seen. However, as his career moves along, Nowitzki figures to get more attention as one of the best players the sport has ever seen — no qualifications required.
On Tuesday night, Dirk reached one of the milestones that will establish that legacy. On the first possession of the fourth quarter in the Mavericks' game against the Utah Jazz, the 12-time All-Star knocked down a jumper from the right wing for his 17th and 18th points of the night. The basket was a historic one that pushed Nowitzki up and over the mark of 26,710 points set by legend Oscar Robertson in his 14 seasons. Nowitzki added a 3-pointer later in the game to end the night with 26,714 career points, which puts him at 10th on the all-time list. Watch it below:
Nowitzki now finds himself 232 points behind ninth-place Hakeem Olajuwon. Yet Olajuwon is not just the next name on the list — he's also the top foreign-born scorer in NBA history. While the native Nigerian did become a U.S. citizen and won a gold medal for Team USA at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Hakeem is widely acknowledged as the greatest foreign-born player in league history. That status wouldn't necessarily change if and when Dirk passes him on the scoring list, but it would help clarify exactly how much the German has accomplished since he was drafted in June 1998. Despite turning 36 this June, Nowitzki has averaged 21.6 ppg in 2013-14 and should vault up the all-time list before his career is over. He also figures to do so as a member of the Mavericks, the only team he has ever known.
Incidentally, Nowitzki's move past Robertson was not the only historic achievement for the Mavericks in this game. By shooting 16 of 17 from the field in the first quarter (and 17 of 18 to start the game), the Mavericks set a new franchise record for best shooting percentage in a quarter. That hot start helped offset some offensive struggles the rest of the way and gave Dallas a 96-83 win over Utah. Nowitzki's 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting led alls scorers, just as he has so many times in his career.
- - - - - - -