DALLAS – Back when he was a kid growing up in Germany, Dirk Nowitzki used to follow the NBA and fantasize about one day being on the big stage with some of the players he idolized.
One player Nowitzki followed was Hakeem Olajuwon, who used his famed Dream Shake shot to help the Houston Rockets win consecutive NBA titles in 1994 and ’95. Olajuwon also scored 26,946 points in his career, which was good enough for ninth all-time in NBA history.
That’s when Nowitzki soared to new heights by passing Olajuwon on two fronts. First, Nowitzki tallied 23 points, which enabled the Dallas Mavericks to rally from 24 points down to claim a 106-98 triumph over the Sacramento Kings at American Airlines Center.
The points helped push Nowitzki by Olajuwon and into ninth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 26,953 points. Also, Nowitzki passed Olajuwon to become the No. 1 all-time NBA scorer among international players.
"To pass the Dream is unbelievable,’’ said Nowitzki, who was scoreless after the first quarter. "I was watching the NBA in the 90s, I was a huge fan, and obviously when MJ (Michael Jordan) retired those two years, (the Rockets) won back to back championships.
"(Olajuwon) was unguardable on the block, his footwork, his skill level, his hands, his touch was second to none, so I’m pretty proud.’’
With Olajuwon in Nowitzki’s rearview mirror, next on his radar screen in the all-time scoring column are Elvin Hayes (27,313), Moses Malone (27,409) and Shaquille O’Neal (28,596). And those theoretically also could come at some point this season.
"It’s an unbelievable, really, accomplishment,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "But he’s going to pass more guys coming up.
"It’s just a tribute to his greatness. Guys like him that live their entire life committed to excellence are able to do things like this, and that’s why he’s so very special.’’
When asked what his wife was going to say when he arrived home after another historic moment, Nowitzki smiled and said: "She's probably going to be sleeping. I'm going to wake her up and tell her I made it.
"Yeah, that's how that's going to go down.’’