Dirk Nowitzki becomes latest to score 25,000 points

Posted Sunday, Apr. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Early in his rookie season during the 1998-99 campaign, Dirk Nowitzki was so ineffective that then-coach Don Nelson asked him if he didn’t mind if he took him out of the starting lineup.

How times have changed.

With 6:44 remaining in the second quarter Sunday, Nowitzki added another valuable stamp to his illustrious career as the future Hall of Famer became just the 17th player in NBA history to score at least 25,000 points. The milestone came on one of Nowitzki’s patented 18-foot jumpers and put the Dallas Mavericks ahead of the New Orleans Hornets, 43-27, at New Orleans Arena.

“It’s an unbelievable accomplishment,” said Nowitzki, who finished with 19 points and six rebounds in the Mavs’ 107-89 victory. “Obviously when I first got in the league not knowing if I could make it here, it was a tough first year for me — in and out of the lineup and not strong enough to play with the big boys.

“But Nellie was great for me. Nellie gave me a lot of confidence. Not a lot of coaches, or maybe none, would have had a 7-footer out there shooting threes, and that was right up his alley, so obviously that gave me a lot of confidence.”

It was the type of confidence Nowitzki used to polish his game. And now his name will forever be linked with some of the game’s all-time elite players.

That in itself brought a smile to Nowitzki’s now well-shaved face.

“I never even thought that I could be in this league until I was drafted,” Nowitzki said. “Before that I was a guy out of Germany at the time who didn’t even play first Division (basketball) in Germany, I played second Division.”

None of that matters now for the 15-year veteran.

“It’s just phenomenal when you think about the number of years, the sustained level of excellence and the exclusive club that he joins — only 17 guys in history,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I think he’s most proud of winning a championship, which has nothing to do with individual honors.

“But he’s a player who has revolutionized the game in many ways. He’s the only 7-1 guy that has even played the game the way he does, and this is by being good around the basket, being great at mid-range, being great at a long distance away, driving it, having the ability to shoot any kind of off-balanced unorthodox shot possible.”

It was many of those off-balanced unorthodox shots that also helped Nowitzki join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Kevin Garnett, Elvin Hayes, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in NBA history to score at least 25,000 points and collect at least 9,000 rebounds.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” center Brandan Wright said of Nowitzki’s 25,000-point milestone. “He’s had a storied career.”

“I think the biggest thing about him is he’s definitely a willing passer. People don’t understand that he’s one of the most unselfish superstars to ever play this game.

“He’s so unselfish he deserves everything he’s getting.”

Asked if he would play long enough to reach the 30,000-point barrier, Nowitzki shrugged and said: “I don’t know how much time it takes me to get five (thousand), but I’m going to be around. It would sound nice, but I don’t know if that would be something that keeps me going on one leg at 41.

“If it’s not fun anymore, just to drag around just to get to (30,000), I don’t think that’s what I’m about. If it comes in the next couple of years, that’ll be great, if not, that’ll be fine, too.”

In addition to the Mavs beating the Hornets, what was fun for Nowitzki on Sunday was seeing the entire Mavs’ bench give him a standing ovation once he cracked the 25,000-point barrier.

“You really want to get it over with, you don’t want it to linger and then you miss one and miss another one, and then you start thinking even more and start pressing it,” Nowitzki said. “I was just happy to get it over with and see the whole bench get up and salute me — that was a special feeling.

“It’s a great milestone. Once I look back on my career this is going to mean a lot.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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