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Lakers' LeBron James Calls Dirk Nowitzki 'Greatest International Player Ever'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 26, 2022

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) defends Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Emil T. Lippe)
AP Photo/Emil T. Lippe

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James called Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki "the greatest international player ever" amid a host of compliments for the German, whose statue was unveiled outside American Airlines Center before the Mavs' 124-115 home win on Sunday against L.A.

NBA @NBA

"He's a legend, he's an icon... that boy was cold."<br><br>LeBron on Dirk's statue and legacy πŸ—£οΈ <a href="https://t.co/81QoTVfxTA">pic.twitter.com/81QoTVfxTA</a>

Grant Afseth @GrantAfseth

The Dirk Nowitzki statue is unveiled. <a href="https://t.co/xPPlg0oxgg">pic.twitter.com/xPPlg0oxgg</a>

Nowitzki is clearly among the game's all-time international greats alongside players such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Steve Nash, Patrick Ewing, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Tim Duncan, all of whom made the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team.

James also shouted out four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili as well when adding more compliments on Nowitzki.

"I think he's the greatest international player ever," James said, per Legion Hoops. "I put him right there with Manu. ... That boy was cold man. Dirk was cold. He revolutionized what a stretch 4 big could look like."

At this rate, Mavs guard Luka Doncic and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic can also lay claim to the title of best international player of all time when their careers are over someday.

Nowitzki was sensational in his own right, however, and James knows first-hand having played against him for 16 years.

In his 21 NBA seasons (all with the Mavs), Nowitzki made 14 All-Star teams and 12 All-NBA teams. He was the 2010-11 NBA Finals MVP en route to leading the Mavs to a championship over James and the Miami Heat.

Nowitzki averaged 20.7 points and 7.5 rebounds for his career.