Ranking Dirk Nowitzki with Other Members of 25K Club
Now while it's unfair to compare the German sensation to all 17 players, it is fair to stack him up against the members that played the same position.
It's impossible to gauge who would win in a game of one-on-one between Nowitzki and the likes of Shaquille O'Neal or Michael Jordan. The players don't match up correctly, being different in size, strength and ability.
Therefore, this list ranks the best power forwards that have scored 25,000 points in the NBA.
John Havlicek is not on this list because he also played guard during his tenure with the Celtics. Tim Duncan, while arguably the greatest power forward ever, won't be mentioned because he hasn't hit 25,000 points.
But this list does have some of the best to ever play the power forward position, so where does Dirk find himself among the greats after hitting the 25K milestone?
6. Dominique Wilkins
The Human Highlight Reel was a scoring machine.
Wilkins scored over 2,000 points in eight different seasons and averaged between 26 and 31 points for a decade from 1985 to 1994.
So why is the 10th all-time leading scorer only sixth on this list? He never won an MVP (he was the runner-up in 1986) and he never played in a conference finals, let alone win a championship.
Yes, he played in a league that featured the Bad-Boy Pistons and Jordan's Bulls, but Wilkins relied on his scoring more than his defense, being known as a "me first" guy throughout the league because of his innate ability to put the ball in the basket.
5. Elvin Hayes
If fantasy basketball would have existed in the 1970s, Hayes would have been a top five pick in every draft.
Not only did the Big E put up big stats (averaging 25 points and 12.5 rebounds in his career), but he barely ever missed a game. In his 16-year career Hayes never played fewer than 80 games in a season, only missing a total of nine contests ever.
After logging exactly 50,000 minutes in the NBA, he deserved to amass over 27,000 points and 16,000 rebounds in his career.
Stats can be deceiving, however. Among the top 10 scorers in NBA history, Hayes has the second-lowest points per game average (21), while playing in the fourth most games (1,303).
Unlike Wilkins, Hayes did win a championship in 1978 and played in two other finals in 1975 and 1979, but it wasn't because of him that his Bullets won the title.
The Hall of Famer scored 133 points in the first six games of the '78 Finals, but only 19 in fourth quarters. In Game 7, the Big E became small, only recording 12 points before fouling out with 10 minutes to play.
4. Kevin Garnett
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Until 2008, Kevin Garnett was known as the player with elite talent, but lacked confidence in the postseason that didn't allow him to reach his full potential.
Garnett's athleticism never translated to the postseason. He never made it out of the first round in hist first seven playoff series and the 2004 MVP fizzled out in the playoffs that year losing to the eventual Western Conference champion Lakers.
After missing the playoffs three straight years, the Timberwolves sent the Big Ticket to Boston.
It was with the Celtics where KG finally flourished, being named Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in 2008 as well winning his first and only NBA title. He separated himself from other forwards like Hayes and Wilkins when he clinched the championship in Game 6 of the 2008 Finals, scoring 26 points and adding 14 rebounds.
However, Garnett also had eventual Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Ray Allen alongside him to capture the title. Although he was the best player for his 2008 squad, he shared the glory. He could never get it done while being the man in Minnesota, and that's why he's behind the next three forwards.
3. Dirk Nowitzki
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Nowitzki would've been behind KG if this was done three years ago.
Before the upset of LeBron James and the Miami Heat, Dirk Nowitzki was the guy that never got it done during the playoffs. His two biggest falters, the meltdown in the 2006 Finals and being upset by the eighth seed Warriors in 2007, were what stuck out in his career.
After he carried his Dallas Mavericks to the 2011 title, however, the switch has been made. Garnett needed two eventual Hall of Famers to help him win a title. The Mavericks second best player after Nowitzki in 2011? Jason Terry...off the bench.
Let's not forget that Dirk has revolutionized the NBA, being the poster boy for jump-shooting big men. Dirk brought a finesse game that is second to none when he came over from Germany. Today, teams are trying to find forwards that can shoot from distance in order to stretch the defense and create lanes for their guards.
Yes, the Big Ticket has the statistical advantage, but Dirk won his championship almost all on his own.
2. Karl Malone
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If the numbers told the entire story, then Karl Malone would be the greatest power forward to ever play the game of basketball, hands down.
The Mailman was one of the NBA's ultimate iron men. In ten 82-game seasons and another seven 90-plus game seasons, Malone only missed 10 games total in 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz. Among the rest of the members of the 25K point club, he has played in the second most games (1,476) while recording the second most amount of points all-time (36,928).
Not only that, Malone was named all-defense three times and ranks first in NBA history in free throws (9,787) and free-throw attempts (13,188), sixth in rebounds (14,968), fourth in games and second in minutes (54,852).
He is also one of two players in NBA history to record 35,000 points and 14,000 rebounds in a career (Kareem is the other).
But statistics don't say it all.
The two-time MVP came close to winning an NBA championship in 1997 and 1998, but consistently came up short in the clutch.
In Game 1 of the 1997 Finals, Malone missed two free throws late that would have led to a victory. In Game 6 in the 1998 Finals, Michael Jordan stole the ball from Malone in the waning seconds. Both mistakes led to game-winning shots by Michael Jordan.
As Scottie Pippen once told him, "The Mailman doesn’t deliver on Sundays."
Karl Malone may have the numbers, but it's another Malone that holds to No. 1 spot among power forwards in the 25K point club.
1. Moses Malone
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One thing sticks out when thinking about Moses Malone, other than the fact that he has one of the best NBA names ever.
Malone was arguably the greatest rebounder to ever walk through the Association. His 16,212 rebounds he amassed over his 19-year career is the third-highest mark in league history. He led the NBA in rebounds in six different seasons as well.
What's even more remarkable, he recorded 1,244 more rebounds than Karl Malone while playing in 147 less games! Talk about a physical presence down low.
Most like to call Moses Malone a center rather than a power forward. Being only 6'10", Malone would be a power forward in today's NBA, and a darn good one at that.
The key that separates him from the Mailman is that he was able to dominate for more than one season and in big moments in the playoffs as well.
He destroyed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the post during the 1983 Finals, which the Sixers won. In Philly's sweep of the Lakers, Moses averaged 26 points and 18 boards while out-rebounding the NBA's all-time leading scorer by a 70-30 margin.
Add the fact that he's the only three-time MVP on this list and Moses Malone is the greatest power forward in the 25,000 point club in NBA history.