Dirk Nowitzki further solidified his Hall of Fame legacy on Tuesday night by becoming the sixth player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points. The Dallas Mavericks legend came into his team’s home game against the Los Angeles needing 20 points to achieve the feat and did so with just under 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter with one of his patented fadeaway jumpers.
The Mavericks announced Dirk’s achievement and played a career highlight package on the video board roughly a minute later after a Lakers timeout. Naturally, L.A. called timeout because Nowitzki had bested them again with a contested 3-pointer from the top of the circle.
Mark Cuban got pretty emotional about it all during the break, as well:
The achievement comes in Nowitzki’s 19th season and marks yet another milestone in the story of the best European–born player ever to suit up in the NBA. He is the league’s leading active scorer following Kobe Bryant’s retirement last season and will end his career as one of the best offensive players the league’s ever seen, no matter what he does before retirement. Anyone on a list with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Wilt Chamblerlain is a legend. (Julius Erving has also topped 30,000 points, if you include his ABA stats.)
Frankly, Nowitzki hit the 30,000 mark faster than most expected on Tuesday. He scored 14 points in his first six-minute stretch of playing time before heading to the bench and finished the first quarter with 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting. It was the most points Dirk had scored in a period since January 2014. For that matter, he had only scored more than 18 points seven times previously in the 2016-17 season.
Nowitzki finished the first half with 25 points, the first time he had done so since way back in November 2008. He finished with that number, as well. The Mavericks got out to a very fast start against a porous Lakers defense and won 122-111 thanks to a garbage-time “comeback” from the visitors.
It is entirely possible that this milestone will be the final major achievement of Nowitzki’s career. He is roughly 1,400 points behind Wilt for No. 5 on the all-time scoring list and may opt to retire at the end of this season.
The basketball world treated the occasion accordingly. Yet no reaction will mean more to Dirk than that of his longtime shooting coach and mentor Holger Geschwinder:
You live for moments like this.
— NBA (@NBA) March 8, 2017
LeBron James, almost certainly the next man to hit 30,000, posted a video in Dirk’s honor:
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) March 8, 2017
The Mavericks broadcast featured a number of tributes, too, including a message from Dirk’s friend and ex-teammate Steve Nash. No matter the messenger, though, the greatness of Nowitzki has been well established. After a troublesome rookie season, he has managed to stay relevant and dangerous for longer than most players in the history of the sport. His greatness will be remembered for a long, long time — and it will experienced by his opponents right up until he hangs up his jersey for good.
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