We all know Dirk Nowitzki is awesome. In fact, his name in German means “consistently terrific.” That’s a lie. The translation part, anyway.
How terrific? Top-10 all-time NBA scorer terrific:
With just four games left to go in the regular season, it looks like Dirk will have to wait to pass Hakeem Olajuwon at No. 9 (26,946). I mean, unless he averages 60 points a game from here on out. Which I suppose is doable.
Assuming he can stay healthy and averages 15 points a game over 70 games per season for the next three years, Dirk—who turns 36 on June 19—would finish his career with more than 30,000 points, putting him right behind Wilt Chamberlain (31,419).
Writing at the Dallas Morning News, Eddie Sefko does a tremendous job of putting Nowitzki’s career into a proper—and unfailingly fair—context:
Over the years, Nowitzki proved himself as a lethal shooter. But he also became a good rebounder, learned how to post up on the block, found gold with the one-legged step-back jumper that now is being copied worldwide and, finally, became an NBA champion. He even became a functional defender, which was more astounding than any of the above.
All in all, it’s been a pretty good few days for the Mavs captain, who earlier this week was given NBA Player of the Week honors for the first time since December 2010.
Even LeBron James chimed in via Twitter to wish Nowitzki congratulations.
Congrats to one of my favorite players in today's game @swish41 on cracking the top 10 all time scoring list!— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 9, 2014
More importantly, Tuesday’s win gives Dallas a full two-game cushion over the Memphis Grizzlies in the race for the Western Conference playoffs, a finish-line sprint that also includes the current No. 8 seed, the Phoenix Suns.
As for how Dirk will ultimately rank among NBA great’s, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle—who is in no way biased—has some thoughts on the matter. From Mavs Outsider Report's Brian Gutierrez:
Carlisle on who is on his NBA Mount Rushmore: "Other than Nowitzki? ... Time takes care of all of that."— Bryan Gutierrez (@BallinWithBryan) February 18, 2014
OK, so maybe he means the “modern” Mount Rushmore. Still, I think you’d have a difficult time finding anyone willing to doubt the importance of Dirk’s legacy.