30,000 points. Quite the accomplishment, no doubt about it. Dirk will go down as one of the greatest of all time. But let’s be honest – the measure of his decorated career runs much deeper than what you see in the box score.
As a former player, critical student, and avid fan of the game, I’m 100% on-board with guys like Dirk (even if he’s single-handedly been destroying my favorite team for well over a decade – we’ll get to that later). He’s as humble as they come, he’s never used his inferior athleticism as an excuse, and he’s spent his entire 18-plus-year NBA career in the same uniform. I have mad respect for this dude.
Let’s begin with the ludicrous length of Dirk’s ongoing career. The guy has been in the league for longer than I’ve known how to read, folks. My body could barely last 4 years in college, yet this 38-year-old 7-footer is still playing 26 minutes a game and getting the job done. Dirk has averaged over 35 minutes, 21 points, and 7 rebounds per game for a span of over 1,375 games. That is absolute insanity.
How does this lanky, slow, mediocre bloke from Germany have such consistent success over such an extensive period of time? One word: fadeaway. This staple Dirk shot is downright unguardable. He fades away off of a step-back. He fades away off of a spin-move. He fades away off of a back-to-the-basket sikma. He fades away off of a triple-threat stare down. He fades away from 3. He fades away off of 1 foot, 2 feet, against a mismatch, and against the tallest guy on the floor.
Dirk knows he isn’t beating anyone off the dribble. And even with his length, he knows he’s not jumping over anyone. So what does he do? He finds a way to create enough space to get a shot off, and he gets really good at it. Whenever I (unsuccessfully) attempt a fadeaway in my old-man pickup games, I yell ‘Dirk!’ with no hesitation. It’s as synonymous as yelling ‘Kobe!’ when you throw a crumpled piece of paper into a trashcan. His signature shot is revolutionary. My grandkids, and their grandkids, will know what the Dirk Nowitzki fadeaway is.
Like I touched on previously, Dirk has been embarrassing the Celtics for a long while. He’s averaged more points against Boston than any other team throughout his career. But I just can’t hate him. I can’t even pretend to.
I’ll never forget when he led Dallas to an NBA title in 2011. After sneaking past the Durant/Westbrook-led Thunder, the Mavs played the LeBron/Bosh-led Heat in the Finals. Dirk tore a tendon in his finger in Game 1 (which they lost). His response? “I’ll be alright for Thursday.” He came back in Game 2 to rally a 4th quarter deficit and tie the series.
By Game 4, Dirk was carrying a 101-degree fever, yet pulled down 11 boards and hit the game-winning shot to once again tie the series. His response? “I’ll be alright on Thursday.” Dallas went on to win the next 2 games and bring home their first franchise championship.
You just have to love the guy. And you just have to love that a guy like him has had so much success. And can we just talk about this absolutely unreal quote from him on the night he hit 30,000?:
“It’s been an amazing ride, and hopefully a couple of more baskets are coming and then it’s time to ride off into the sunset.”
Ride off, Dirk. We’ll be watching from a distance, admiring how such an unorthodox guy like you can look so majestic – just like we’ve been doing your entire career.