Will Dirk go down as one of the game's greatest scorers?
Mavericks Forward Dirk Nowitzki joined an exclusive club Wednesday night when he became just the 34th player in NBA history to score 20,000 points. It happened in the fourth quarter against the Lakers on a baseline jumper with 10:57 left in the game.
It actually gave him 20,001 points and pulled the Mavericks to within three, 78-75. The 31 year old Nowitzki was playing in the 876th game of his career and became the 19th fastest player in league history to reach the milestone.
Nowitzki was drafted for his potential as a 7-footer who could make 3-pointers and blossomed into the franchise's greatest player. He won a league MVP award and lead Dallas to the NBA finals for the first time.
"It's an unbelievable milestone," Nowitzki says. "I mean, looking back, eleven years ago, I don't think none of you guys thought I could score 1,000."
That is true especially when you consider his first game in Seattle on Feb 5, 1999 when Nowitzki had 5 assists, no field goals and 2 free throws.
It's also hard to forget his first trip to Dallas in June of 1998 when then Mavericks Head Coach, Don Nelson was showing him the future site of the American Airlines Center. Nowitzki was a tall skinny kid with long blonde hair.
"It's hard to recall back then but that floppy headed blonde German kid coming over here," says Donn Nelson, President of Basketball Operations for the Mavericks. "I thought he was going to be good, but we'd be lying if we thought he was going to be this good. A drink of water and the all of sudden he blossoms into this, it's really a cool thing for our fans to be a part of."
Nowitzki met his hero, then Seattle Forward Detlef Schrempf before his first NBA game. Today in German, Nowitzki is bigger than Schrempf and just as popular as Tennis legend Boris Becker and Formula one driver Michael Schumacher.
"He has tremendous respect in our country, because of his character, his work ethic and obviously his accomplishments," says German National Coach Dirk Bauermann.
By reaching 20,000 points, Nowitzki did something players like John Stockton with 19,711 points, Isiah Thomas with 18,822 points, Rick Berry with 18,395 and Magic Johnson with 17,707 were never able to reach for one reason or another.
Meanwhile, Nowitzki says the record is fine but he still dreams of winning an NBA Championship. "It doesn't mean that much to me as of right now," Nowitzki says. "I'm stills trying to chase my dream and that's win a championship and like I said, all that other stuff is great once my career is over."
34 players in NBA history have now topped the 20,000 point mark. It's a virtual guarantee that when his playing days are over, Nowitzki will end up in the basketball hall of fame.
The all time leading scorer in NBA history is former Lakers Center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He finished his career with 38,387 points.
Next on the list in the 33rd spot for Nowitzki to catch is Tom Chambers who hs 20,049 points.