Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said a mouthful this week when he declared Dirk Nowitzki a top-12 NBA player all time.Let that sink in for a minute.The Dunking Deutschman top 12 all time?The hooping Shaggy Dirk?Wow!Certainly, Carlisle’s comments came in conjunction with Nowitzki’s passing Oscar Robertson to move into the top 10 among all-time scorers, with prospects of moving higher in the next year.Definitely call it recency bias.Clearly, there is some partiality.Top 20 no doubt, and maybe top 15.But top 12 is a stretch in my opinion, considering the likes of Magic, Bird, Jordan, Wilt, Kareem, Russell, Duncan, Shaq, Kobe, Olajuwon, Moses Malone, Isaiah, LeBron and Dr. J. And that’s not even considering Barkley, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson or Bob Cousy.What is not in question is Nowitzki’s place in DFW sports history, of which he is top four all time.If there were Mount Rushmore of DFW sports figures, Dirk would be on the side of the mountain next to Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Roger Staubach.That’s the four. That’s it.We don’t even need to discuss the presence of the three Cowboys on the list. Do we?Titles. Titles. Titles, not stature in the community, as well as places in NFL history.Don’t be silly.You may ask where are the Rangers on the list?You tell me.The only person who deserves consideration is Nolan Ryan. And while he did a lot during his time here as a player, Ryan came Arlington when he was 137 years old, to paraphrase a line from the movie Coming to America.How about Mike Modano of the Stars?If there was anyone who has a legitimate case to be included in the hallowed top four, it’s Modano, the greatest American-born player in NHL history and the man who led the Stars to the Stanley Cup title in 1999.He is an American hockey legend.Modano will forever be the face of Stars hockey in DFW.But it’s the diminishing presence and significance of the Stars and hockey in DFW that keeps him off this list. That is a shame and a disservice to his greatness and impact.But it is what it is.Getting back to Nowitzki.Appreciate him now.Take stock of what you are witnessing.It’s not just about the numbers. It’s how he has revolutionized the game and the way basketball looks at big men.But certainly the numbers can’t be overlooked.He is the 10th-leading scorer in NBA history and he can easily climb to seven next year, passing Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone.How high he goes after that is up to Father Time and health, with Wilt and Shaq at five and six. It will take a couple of more years for that.But Nowitzki is special.Not top 12 all time, but Mount Rushmore in DFW for sure.
Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760 Twitter: @clarencehilljr