"Congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki on reaching the NBA's most exclusive 30,000-point club," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a news release. "Throughout his 19 seasons with the Mavericks, Dirk has been a model player and terrific ambassador for our game. This latest accomplishment further establishes his legacy as one of the NBA's greatest players."
Nowitzki, 38, entered the game 20 points shy of the mark and opened with a vintage streak that sent American Airlines Center into a frenzy. He hit his first six shots from the floor and finished with 18 first-quarter points, the highest-scoring quarter by a Maverick this season.
In the second, Dallas wasted no time getting the ball to the hot hand. Nowitzki missed an 18-footer on Dallas' opening possession before burying a 15-foot fadeaway less than a minute later to reach 30,000 points.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain are the only other players in NBA history to reach the mark. Julius Erving scored over 30,000 points in the ABA and NBA.
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Nowitzki is the first international player to reach the threshold, further cementing his legacy as basketball's greatest player born outside the United States.
"You look at his body, his athleticism, you're like, 'OK, there's no way this guy has 30,000 points,'" Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes said, per Schuyler Dixon of the Associated Press (via NBA.com). "It just speaks to his consistency, year in, year out, Hall of Fame players next to him, not Hall of Fame players next to him, going out and doing what he does all the time."
The 2016-17 season has been perhaps the roughest of Nowitzki's career, with his body beginning to show the wear of 1,500-plus regular-season and playoff games. The 7-foot German missed all but five of the Mavericks' first 29 games with an Achilles injury and came into Tuesday averaging 13.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, the former his worst mark since his rookie season.
But Nowitzki has showed flashes of his vintage self, helping propel Dallas to the cusp of the Western Conference's No. 8 seed. A 20-point outburst Feb. 9 helped the Mavs to an overtime win against the rising Utah Jazz, and he came through in big moments during narrow wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs earlier this season.
It's unlikely any of those moments topped Tuesday night, when Nowitzki turned back the clock and looked like a 28-year-old version of himself against the young Lakers.
Thirty-thousand points. One indelible legacy.
Not bad for a guy who was traded for Robert "Tractor" Traylor on draft night in 1998.