|08 April 2014|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Dirk Nowitzki is quickly making steps to move into the top-10 all-time NBA scorers' list |
On Monday, Dirk Nowitzki added one more individual accolade to his already overflowing list of awards and, later this week, he is poised to further strengthen his status as a basketball legend.
Nowitzki, who turns 36 in June, averaged 25.3 points and eight rebounds in the last four games of the Dallas Mavericks and was named 'Player of the Week' in the NBA's Western Conference.
In the process, he scored the 26,669th point in his storied NBA career during last Friday's 107-95 win over the Lakers and overcame Dominique Wilkins for 11th place on the NBA all-time scoring list.
The German international is now poised to reach a milestone in the history of European players in the NBA, as he currently has 26,693 career points and needs a further 18 points to pass Oscar Robertson and enter the Top-10 on the all-time scoring list.
Nowitzki could register this landmark figure as early as Tuesday, when Dallas travel to the Utah Jazz, or on Thursday, when they play host to the San Antonio Spurs.
The only certainly is that he will underplay the achievement, just like he did on Monday, when asked about the 17th Western Conference Player of the Week award in his career.
"I guess the greatest thing about that is it means we won some games," Nowitzki commented.
"That's really what this stretch here is all about.
"Winning Player of the Week at this point in my career means that we're winning games, and that's what it's all about.
|"It's not really about personal stuff any more, it's about making the play-offs" - Dirk Nowitzki |
"It's not really about personal stuff any more, it's about making the play-offs.
"We didn't make the play-offs last year, and we had a big week.
"So, that's really all that Player of the Week means for me.
"We were able to pull out some tough games, especially on the road, and that's great."
This string of outstanding performances by the German legend has come whilst Dallas are emerged in a fierce battle with the Phoenix Suns and the Memphis Grizzlies for the last two play-off spots in the West.
It is a struggle that, thanks to the phenomenal form of their franchise player and a supporting cast led by Spain's Jose Calderon, the Mavericks are winning right now.
The Texas team has improved to 47-31 in the standings with just four games remaining in their regular season schedule, while Phoenix, spurred on by the best NBA season of Slovenian international Goran Dragic, stands at 46-31.
Memphis, which re-entered the play-off race with renewed force after the return to action of Spanish star Marc Gasol, has only won five of their last 10 games and have dropped to 45-
If Dallas do make the play-offs, Nowitzki could come very close or even pass Hakeem Olajuwon for ninth spot on the all-time scoring list before the current NBA season is over.
'The Dream' finished his NBA career with 26,946 points on a 21,8 points-per-game average, while the big German averages 22.5 points per game in his career since joining the Mavericks in 1998.
To put into perspective just how difficult it will be for any other European player to overcome Dirk's scoring record in the future, it is worth mentioning that Tony Parker, who arrived at the Spurs in 2001, has scored 16,011 points so far in his career.
|Nowitzki sees flashes of himself in young Spaniard Nikola Mirotic |
However, there is one player that Nowitzki believes can one day carry the European flag in the NBA, and perhaps even emulate his scoring feats.
In an interview with Spanish daily As in late February, Nowitzki praised Nikola Mirotic by confirming something that many had pointed out before.
"When I first show Mirotic playing, he reminded me a bit of myself," the German forward said.
"He captured my attention and I started following his games whenever I could.
"Now I almost see myself in him, it makes me very happy that players of the mould of Mirotic and myself will continue to exist."
Those words fuelled yet another round of discussion on who will be Dirk's legitimate heir in European basketball.
But the Monday award served as a timely reminder that the end of the German's career is not approaching as fast as his age might suggest.
Nowitzki is still very much present and is still one of the most phenomenal basketball players in the world.