Dallas Mavericks: Larry Bird

One-on-one with Dirk: Legacy on one leg

June, 19, 2014
Jun 19
10:00
AM CT
ESPN Dallas recently held court with Dirk Nowitzki. In this series, Nowitzki shares thoughts about his past, present and future.

As time moves on, Dirk Nowitzki will be remembered as one of the most special and unique players to ever play in the NBA. Among his contemporaries, he is held in extremely high regard. We’ve seen the league’s best -- Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James -- pay their respect to Nowitzki by copying his patented one-footed fadeaway jumper.

In addition, he’s earned the respect of some legends. In February 2013, ESPN.com’s Wright Thompson wrote a feature on Michael Jordan for ESPN the Magazine in which Jordan stated Nowitzki was one player who made the short list of stars who could be nearly as successful as he was in his era. Also included were James, Bryant and Tim Duncan.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports

A set of fortunate circumstances led Dirk Nowitzki to change the shooting game in favor of big men.

Over years and years of blood, sweat, tears and jumpers, Nowitzki has established a legacy that will live on for generations. When asked about his impact, he couldn’t quite put his finger on what kind of mark he’s left on the game he loves so much.

“I don’t know. I kind of let others do that,” Nowitzki said. “I came in as a little kid, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I was just working hard, had some talent and came into the right situation with the right kind of guys with [Don Nelson] and [Mark] Cuban. I got better and better.

“A lot of guys come in with talent and never reach their max. Me having a great surrounding, work ethic and coaching and teammates, it just happened.”

With all of that in his favor, Nowitzki has left his mark in the NBA. Based on his body of work and uniqueness, Nowitzki should be considered a revolutionary player of the modern game.

If you look at the past, the likes of Charles Oakley, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and even Duncan and Kevin Garnett defined the power forward position in the traditional manner we knew long ago. Fast-forward to when Nowitzki was starting to gain confidence in the NBA and you see the power forward position being shaped into a position known as the stretch-4.

The idea of a stretch-4 sounded like a gimmick at the time: Stick a big man on the perimeter and present him as a shooting threat to stretch the floor. Players such as Sam Perkins, Kiki VanDeWeghe and Larry Bird were paving the way. Nowitzki took the concept of the stretch-4 and ran with it. The concept of having a stretch-4 is a component every team craves. Nowitzki’s size and shooting are the reason for that.

International scouting already was taking place before Nowitzki joined the league, but his impact forced general managers and scouts to increase the deployment of assets to focus on finding the next international gem. Over the past decade, a goal for front offices has been to find the next Nowitzki.

He came into the league with size and skills no one else had. Time has been his ally when one compares today’s game to that of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The physicality of the past gave way to the fluidity of today’s game, allowing players like Nowitzki to thrive.

“When I first came in, the rules were a little different,” Nowitzki explained. “Now, there’s less handchecking and zone defenses. More of a free-flowing game helped me. I don’t know if the rules were kept the same where there was pounding and one-on-one back-downs for 10 seconds. I’m not sure if I ever would have had the same impact if the rules were the same. There are a lot of circumstances in play that had a role in me succeeding.”

Meshing the rule changes with that next generation of shooter’s like Nowitzki allowed more of a free game. Players now have to respect everyone on the floor as a legitimate scoring threat from anywhere and no matter their size.

"I’m happy now that most of the 5s and 4s can face up and shoot and drive,” Nowitzki said. "It’s fun to watch. Everybody now can score. I think that’s where this game is fun to watch and unbelievable. If all five guys are dangerous, you’ve got to guard everyone. That’s when the game really begins to become fun.”

Though he'll never admit it, his rise in status as an elite scorer provided a key component for those added doses of excitement in today's game. Still, he almost sounds like a proud dad in seeing the league filled with a variety diverse weapons on offense.

Nowitzki's career -- and legacy -- has been the equivalent of a pebble being thrown into the body of water that creates a ripple effect, leading to a wave of shooting big men to arrive after him.

Vince Carter lets it fly, passes Larry Bird

February, 13, 2013
2/13/13
11:46
PM CT
DALLAS – Vince Carter punctuated his historic hot streak with a bewildered smile and shoulder shrug, a la Michael Jordan in the 1992 NBA Finals.

[+] EnlargeVince Carter
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezVince Carter scored 26 points to pass Larry Bird in career scoring during the Mavs' dominating victory Wednesday against the Kings. Carter's 21,796 points puts him at No. 29 on the all-time list.
"I don't recall doing it," Carter said.

Well, the dude was unconscious at the time.

The shrug came moments after Carter swished a deep 3-pointer on the Mavs' final possession of the third quarter, a shot that bumped Hall of Famer Larry Bird down a spot to 30th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. It capped a spectacular scoring spree for Carter, who had 17 of his 26 points in the frame to make sure the Mavs entered the All-Star break with a blowout win over the sorry Sacramento Kings.

"I was wishing the quarter wouldn't end," Carter said.

The Mavs' sixth man sat out the first five-plus minutes of the quarter. His first bucket after halftime came on a tip-in at the 5:28 mark. Then the 36-year-old best known for his aerial highlights got in a ridiculous groove from 3-point range.

Carter was 5-of-7 from long range in the quarter, a hot streak that killed a Kings run that trimmed the Mavs' lead to seven. He hit another one the next possession. And then he really got rolling in the final 68 seconds.

The Mavs closed the quarter with a 9-0 run -- all on Carter 3s.

"You feelin' it like that, let it fly,” Shawn Marion said.

"It was fun. He got hot there and we needed it," Dirk Nowitzki said.

"A groove like that as far as shooting? It's been a while," said Carter, who was 9-of-15 from the field and 6-of-9 from 3-point range for the game, which he finished with 21,796 career points.

PODCAST
The Mavs are reportedly interested in Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings. It's not a perfect trade scenario, but it has many positives. Ben and Skin say this could help Dallas land a "big fish."

Listen Listen
It's not as if Carter's big night came out of nowhere. He has provided consistent scoring punch off the pine this season, averaging 13.0 points, and has had five 20-plus-point performance since New Year's Day.

Coach Rick Carlisle raves about all the things Carter does for the Mavs other than score. He's an underrated defender who leads the team in charges drawn, an unselfish, effective passer and a locker-room leader who embraces coming off the bench despite being an eight-time All-Star.

But Carter will go down in history as one of the best scorers in the history of the game. And he's far from a has-been just hanging on in the NBA. He's one of the league's most explosive sixth men, still capable of taking over for stretches.

"He's been a great player in this league and he still has the ability to have stretches where he can be that kind of great player in terms of his high impact with streaks of shot-making, some of the playmaking things that he's able to do," Carlisle said. "It'd be hard to tell you how important he is to our team. It's so important.

"He's still a special player."
Jason Kidd will rest during the Mavs' regular-season finale, which means that he'll fail to record a triple-double in a season for the first time in his 18-year career.

Kidd came within one point of a triple-double earlier this month, when he had 10 rebounds and 12 assists in a win over the Golden State Warriors. His 107 career triple-doubles rank behind only Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson in NBA history and are more than the combined total of the next four active triple-double leaders (LeBron James, Grant Hill, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kidd's 17 consecutive seasons with a triple-double is by far the longest such streak in NBA history. Next on that list: Johnson (12), Robertson (11), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (10) and Larry Bird (9).
Dirk Nowitzki scoring 40 points in 29 minutes Saturday night somehow was an afterthought to the Lamar Odom saga.

Let's put into perspective just how rare a point-per-minute feat that was.

*There are only two active players who can claim to have scored 40 points while playing 30 or fewer minutes. The last player to do that was Rodrigue Beaubois, who lit up the Warriors for 40 points in 29:52 off the bench as a rookie two seasons ago. J.R. Smith did it twice while with Denver.

*You have to go all the way back to 1994 to find a 40-point performance in fewer minutes. Indiana center Rik Smits had 40 points in 27 minutes against the Sixers.

*There have been only 14 40-point, 30-or-fewer-minute performances since 1986-87, according to basketball-reference.com's database. The players to pull off the feat in reverse chronological order: Nowitzki, Beaubois, Smith (twice), Gilbert Arenas, Stephon Marbury, Gary Payton, Smits, Walt Williams, Terry Porter, Michael Jordan, Sleepy Floyd, Patrick Ewing and Larry Bird.

Dirk nears 23,000 points, top 20 all-time

January, 11, 2012
1/11/12
12:00
PM CT

The milestones are coming fast and furious for Dirk Nowitzki. Through the first 10 games, he has already reached 8,000 career field goals, 1,200 career 3-pointers and he played in his 1,000th career game.

Tonight against the Boston Celtics, the 7-footer needs 19 points to reach 23,000 in his illustrious career. Nowitzki currently sits 23rd all-time in the NBA with 22,981 points. Another 354 points and Nowitzki will pass Boston Celtics great Robert Parrish and move into the top 20.

Nowitzki's scoring average this season is down at 18.9 points, but his minutes, 31.0 a game, are also being closely monitored because of the nature of the compacted schedule. He busted out of a two-game, 5-of-22 slump by hitting 9-of-10 shots for 18 points Tuesday night in the 100-86 win at Detroit.

"We all had a feeling that he was going to play a great game because the way the schedule is set up these last couple of days," coach Rick Calrisle said, nothing the Mavs had two days off before Tuesday's game after playing six games in eight nights.

Can Nowitzki get the 19 points tonight to become the 23rd player in NBA history to notch 23,000 points? Odds are good considering Boston's TD Garden is like a second home to him. Nowitzki's 27.8 scoring average there is his highest at any NBA venue and is the second-highest for any player there behind Michael Jordan's 29.3 average, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Also, Nowitzki's 27.4 career scoring average against the Celtics is his personal highest against a single team. He has the second-highest career scoring average against Boston among active players.

Here's some additional Dirk scoring tidbits:

* He passed Hal Greer (21,586), Larry Bird (21,791), Gary Payton (21,813) and Clyde Drexler (22,195) on the all-time scoring list in 2010-11.

* He ranks third among active players in career scoring, trailing only Kobe Bryant (28,192) and Kevin Garnett (23,426).

* Only three other players born outside of the U.S. have more career points than the 7-footer from Germany: Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946, born in Nigeria), Dominique Wilkins (26,668, born in France) and Patrick Ewing (24,815, born in Jamaica).

On GAC: Larry Bird on Rick Carlisle, Dirk Nowitzki

June, 15, 2011
6/15/11
4:30
PM CT
NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird joined Ian Fitzsimmons and Matt Mosley of Galloway and Company on ESPN 103.3 FM on Wednesday to talk about Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki. Here's what he had to say:

PODCAST
NBA legend Larry Bird dishes on the comparisons with Dirk Nowitzki, the future of LeBron James and backing up your trash talk. He also congratulates the Mavericks and his old friend and teammate Rick Carlisle on winning an NBA title.

Listen Listen
On Carlisle: "I know how Rick coaches. I coached with him; I played with him. I know his demeanor. I know what he’s thinking. He’s in a perfect situation. He’s got a group of guys, most of them are veteran guys that have a goal in mind, and they play the game the way he wants to play. They play together. They play smart. They don’t get caught up in all the other stuff and they’re coachable. If you have a team like that and you’re able to coach them, you’re going to have success.

"He asked a lot of questions, I know that. Rick was a guy that was very astute of the game and he was the type of individual that always studied whatever he was going. Rick can play piano. Rick’s a good golfer. Whatever he does, he goes all out. Coaching was pretty natural for him. It’s just great to see that he had the type of team that he always wanted and they proved that they are the best team in the world."

On the Celtics: "We were good. Actually, it’s the best team I’ve ever seen. We were strong. We had a lot of big guys, we had good guards. We felt we were a smart team. And it was all because of Scottie Wedman, Jerry Sichting and Bill Walton coming off our bench. We were deep. It was just a good team; it was easy to play for. I knew when we started training camp if we stayed healthy we were probably going to win a championship. I never had that feeling before. We won a lot of games and we took care of business when the playoffs came around.

"What was amazing to me was, when it came time to practice, there was some goofing around but the practices were very serious. We played hard, played aggressive in the game. We really went after one another in practice. If some of the starters had big minutes the night before, when we went into practice, we couldn’t wait to get in and play against Walton and Sichting and those guys because it was their game. They didn’t get to play a lot, early, and they needed the practice time to sharpen their skills. It was fun because everybody was tuned in for one goal. We knew we were good so we just had to get the job done."

On Dirk Nowitzki: "I can see a lot of the same things that he does that I did. We both were tall and able to shoot from outside. We rebound the ball pretty well. We’re dedicated to the game. There are a lot of similarities between us. I watched Dirk play in high school, also, and I go, “Wow – this kid does it all”. He had 38 points, 21 rebounds, 7 or 8 assists. He does everything. And that’s why they compare us. Because we’re big, we can shoot from outside and we’re not only scorers – we try to do it all."

On Dirk/Bird comparisons: "I don’t get into that. That’s for other people to debate. I just know that I love his game. I like his demeanor on the court, the way that he loves to play. You can compare him to me if you want to. I’m just happy for the young man and it’s an honor for me to just have his name mentioned with mine."

On meeting Dirk: "It was just a couple years ago. I’ve always been impressed with Dirk. You know him better than I do because you’re around him a lot more. He’s a gentleman. He knows the history of the game and he wants to do whatever he can do to get better. If it’s something that someone says, or whatever to motivate him, he’s listening. Jason’s been around a long time, he knows the ins and outs. It was a lot of fun because I got to meet him and talk to him for an hour, hour-and-a-half, and I was very impressed with the young man."

On Dirk's shooting: "I’d shoot anything. He has it mastered. I’d just throw up stuff, make a couple in a row and just try anything.

"Never seen anything like it [Dirk's one-legged fadeaway]. I’d say you probably will [see this again], but he’s got that shot mastered. Some of that stuff he throws in the hole is pretty amazing. I’m glad I’m out of the league, to tell you the truth."

On trash talk: "I would probably be thrown out of the games now. The game has changed. Everybody talks about that now, but I don’t really remember a lot of it.

"I had a problem with my elbow and it kept swelling. We won those first 2 games at home and I couldn’t extend it. After shootaround, we go back and K.C. Jones says you’re not playing tonight. I said I’m playing tonight. He said, “Naw, this is going to be a long series and I can’t let you play. The doctors won’t let you play”. I stayed back at the hotel and I’m watching the game. They start chanting my name and they beat us. So the next day at shootaround I told them they’re going to get both barrels tonight, guns blazing. And when I got to that arena, man, it was unbelievable. They had security all over me. And, luckily, we won the game. (Jogging on court) – That wasn’t good. That really got them riled up.

"You’d better back it up. The thing is, you get nervous, you get all this energy, you’re pumped to the max, you have this adrenaline flowing. And anything can happen. I don’t mind guys talking and all that, but when it comes down to it you’d better get the job done. I’ve seen guys guarantee victories and all this and it never happens. If you’re going to go out there and talk, you’d better be able to play. And, really, every game that I went into I didn’t know if I was going to play well that night or not. You really just had to be on top of everything. You didn’t know if your shot was going to fall, if you’re going to be able to rebound. So if you say something, you’d better back it up. I know that. And Jason – I watched him – I laughed because he’s talking to LeBron James. And boy, did he play good. He backed it up."

On LeBron James' postgame comments: "I’m a poor sap myself. He brought a lot of it on himself. Here’s the way I feel about LeBron as a player – I think he’s as good as anyone that’s ever played this game. I think he’s going to win a lot of titles. I think he’s going to continue to get better. To me, he’s an amazing athlete. He’s never been hurt. He’s got the body of a football player and he’s got skill. I just think he’s off-the-charts good. And I think his time is going to come. I thought they did a remarkable job in Miami this year by bringing that team together and getting to where they got. They’ll get better next year. His time is going to come if he stays healthy and he’s going to have a lot of success in this league and will win championships.

"I think team basketball always beats individuals if you stay together. You’re never going to have the perfect games. But when it comes down to the end of the games, ball movement always beats individuals going one-on-one. I thought Dallas played as well as they possibly could have played. And they were lead by Dirk. When they couldn’t score, he scored for them. That had to be a joy for Rick to coach that team.

More on Rick Carlisle: "I just texted Rick. He made me feel proud. I’ve known Rick for a long time. I know his goals. I know he’s a heck of a coach, I’ve always known that. But to finally have a group of guys that he believed in, that he trusted – and the way they played together, I was very happy for him. And I told him. It wasn’t a very long text. I told him that I was very proud for him; he makes me proud, our family’s proud for him. My daughter’s upstairs, yelling and screaming. My wife’s in the bedroom, yelling and screaming. I’m sitting in the living room, nervous as heck. We were pulling for him.

"I can tell you one thing – in the playoffs, Rick will try anything. That was great timing. The kid came in and played very well for him. I’ve seen Rick do that before. He thinks about it. He was probably nervous about it. But what a move. That changed the tempo of everything. Even Brian Cardinal coming in, doing the dirty work and getting a couple minutes here and there. I thought he pushed all the right buttons. Because Miami is good. Dallas didn’t beat a second-rate team. They’re a very good basketball team. And you have to push all the right buttons to win."

Any stories on Carlisle? "Actually, in Boston, you’d think they’d give you a lot of gear but they never gave us anything. We had an equipment manager that was there when the building opened in ’32. He didn’t like rookies, especially Rick. I didn’t know why, but he didn’t like Rick. He left his door open and the guys went in there and got socks and jerseys everything else and stuffed them in their bags. After the game, we told Walder that we think Rick’s stealing stuff out of the locker room. And goes over and opens that bag up in front of all the reporters. It was not pretty. And Rick didn’t know what the heck to do. It’s stunning because Walder was mean; he was brutal. The things he was saying to him – we got a thief in the locker room, you’re a thief, you’re a stealer, they should throw you out – right in front of the press. It was not pretty."

On winning an NBA title: "They can never take it away from you. You have it for the rest of your life. And you’re in a club with a lot of great players. And I’m happy for both of them."

Look who's always talking: Jason Terry

June, 8, 2011
6/08/11
4:34
PM CT

DALLAS – Jason Terry just will not shut up.

It doesn’t matter how much Dirk Nowitzki tries to get his longest-tenured teammate to pipe down. It’s not going to happen.

“I told him I was going to put him on a no-interview policy,” Dirk said, recalling a moment after Terry provided some bulletin-board material earlier in the playoffs. “But he didn’t follow that, either.

“He’s a very confident young man. He believes in himself. That’s what I like about him.”

Dirk just doesn’t like the fact that Jet rarely hesitates to express his confidence to any reporter within shouting distance. That was the case this week, when Terry dismissed questions about LeBron James’ dominant clutch defense on him by openly doubting whether The Chosen One could keep it up for seven games.

It seemed like a foolish statement, considering that LeBron had just finished shutting down the league’s MVP. Chicago’s Derrick Rose shot 6.3 percent from the floor when defended by James during the Eastern Conference finals, a major reason why the Heat finished off the Bulls in five games.

Terry, who believed in these Mavs enough to get the Larry O’Brien Trophy tattooed on his right biceps way back in October, didn’t drop his head just because James shut him out in the fourth quarter of the Mavs’ Game 1 and 3 losses. That’s not how Jet flies.

Terry speaks his mind ... and then tries his hardest to back up his big words.

He wasn’t great in Game 4, but he was good enough. Terry wasn’t thrilled by scoring 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting, but he produced under pressure. His eight points in the fourth quarter helped fuel the Mavs’ comeback, as was the case in Game 2.

Yes, Jet missed some open jumpers late in the game that could have spared Dallas from the last-minute drama. But he made good on his vow to attack James, his much bigger foe, running LeBron through a maze of screens and taking him off the dribble on two straight possessions to start the crucial 17-4 run.

“I like this mentality,” Dirk said. “We need him to be aggressive.”

For that to happen, it seems that Terry has to motivate himself by running his mouth. He admits as much, saying nobody puts more pressure on him than he does on himself.

Terry flaps his gums so often and so colorfully that coach Rick Carlisle compared him to two trash-talking legends he’s been around during his days in the NBA: Reggie Miller and Larry Bird.

“Jet says what he says, and he has his reasons,” Carlisle said. “I don’t necessarily need to know what they are. But I think the one thing he knew was that once he says some things, he’s going to have to back it up.

“So I give him a lot of credit. It’s a lot easier to stay low key and sort of go with the flow.”

That’s just not Jet’s style. For better or worse -- and there has been plenty of both during his Dallas tenure -- it’s never put up or shut up with him. He’s always going to talk big, and he’ll either bask in the glory of backing it up or deal with the disappointment.

“That’s Jet,” said DeShawn Stevenson, the only other Maverick who can give Terry a run for his money as a trash talker. “Jet says some things on his mind that he doesn’t even know what he’s saying. But that’s Jet. He does it in card games, he does it on the bus. You’ve got to love him for that.”

Or hate him for it, as the Heat probably will by the end of the Game 7.

First Take: Comparing Dirk to Larry Bird

May, 25, 2011
5/25/11
11:15
AM CT


ESPN's First Take decided to go there -- and made the comparison of Dirk Nowitzki to Hall of Famer Larry Bird. Click the above video to see what was said.

Where does Dirk rank among NBA legends?

May, 10, 2011
5/10/11
12:42
PM CT
DALLAS – Rick Carlisle’s take on Dirk Nowitzki’s place in NBA history is on the record.

"In my opinion, he's a top 10 player in NBA history because of the uniqueness of his game and how he's carried this franchise on his back for over a decade," Carlisle told "ESPN First Take" on Monday.

All due respect to Dirk, but that seems to be a slight exaggeration. There’s still plenty of time to prove his coach right – and it’ll take at least one title to do so – I’d rank Nowitzki somewhere in the upper teens or lower 20s right now.

Nowitzki ranks 23rd on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, and he’ll likely end up in the top six by the time he finishes the four-year contract he signed last summer. But it’s not stepping out on a limb to suggest that some players who rank below him on that list – Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, Julius Erving and John Stockton – are on a tier above Dirk among the league’s legends.

One man’s opinion on the top 10 players in NBA history at this point (and it’s assumed LeBron James will earn a spot here in the near future):

1. Michael Jordan
2. Wilt Chamberlain
3. Bill Russell
4. Magic Johnson
5. Larry Bird
6. Oscar Robertson
7. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
8. Tim Duncan
9. Kobe Bryant
10. Hakeem Olajuwon

Can Dirk crack a list that even Shaq didn’t? It’d take a phenomenal finish to his Hall of Fame career.

Carlisle on Dirk: 'One of the toughest . . .'

April, 20, 2011
4/20/11
11:20
AM CT
DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki shot 51.7 percent this season, the best mark of his career, and averaged 23.0 points, his lowest scoring average since the 2003-04 season.

Through two playoff games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Nowitzki is shooting 38.1 percent, which would be a career playoff low, yet he's averaging 30.5 points, which would be a career playoff high.

How is that possible?

Aggression. That's right. Hard, physical drives by Dirk Nowitzki.

The 7-footer is taking the action to the Blazers, particularly in the fourth quarter when the Mavs start to go to him exclusively. He's not settling for step-back jumpers. He's battling LaMarcus Aldridge one-on-one, toe-to-toe and taking him to the rack. And it's paying off handsomely at the free throw line where Nowitzki is near perfect.

"I was real frustrated there for a minute," Nowitzki said. "But, hey, the fourth quarter, you’ve got to forget what happened the first three quarters and keep attacking. I made a strong move there right away and got two free throws right away at the start of the fourth, just like the first game. That always helps me get my rhythm."

In the two games, Nowitzki is 28-of-30 from the line. No player on either team has taken more than 12 free throws and he's the lone player on either team to attempt double-digit free throws in both games. In a head-to-head comparison of power forwards, Nowitzki has outscored Aldridge at the foul line 28-9 overall and 19-3 in the fourth quarter.

"Our main thing is trying to keep him off the free throw line," Blazers forward Gerald Wallace said. "It's tough when he's making shots and he's getting to the free throw line. Either or, you can't give up both."

While Nowitzki's overall shooting percentage is low, his fourth-quarter shooting has been mostly on-target. He's 6-of-11 from the floor and 1-of-1 from 3-point range. It was a clutch one from the corner that helped the Mavs pull away in Game 1. Mostly, Nowitzki has put his head down and gone to the basket.

It's a brand of toughness that Nowitzki doesn't always get credit for, but Carlisle said it's nothing new to him.

"I think he's one of the toughest guys I've ever been around, no question," Carlisle said. "I played several years with [Larry] Bird, [Kevin] McHale, [Robert] Parish, Dennis Johnson, those guys. He's right up there with those guys, what he's been able to do. You check his record his record in the playoffs, there aren't many guys in the history of the game that are up in that stratosphere of productivity, and games won."

Mavs cornering market on prolific marksmen

February, 7, 2011
2/07/11
2:45
PM CT
When Peja Stojakovic finally makes his expected debut Monday night against Cleveland -- and, yes, I do expect him to start -- Dallas will officially have two of the five most prolific 3-point shooters in NBA history in the lineup.

Jason Kidd is No. 3 all-time in 3-point makes with 1,746 entering Monday’s play. Stojakovic is fifth with 1,718. Boston's Ray Allen, meanwhile, needs just four 3s more to pass Reggie Miller’' 2,560 career triples to seize the all-time league lead.

There was little hint during Kidd’s first seven seasons that he’d be part of this conversation, given that he sunk only 507 3s in that span -- 1.03 per game -- at a success rate of 32.3 percent. But Kidd's move to New Jersey in 2001 and subsequent work with shooting guru Bob Thate has resulted in 1,239 triples over the past 10 seasons, good for an average of 1.66 per game on 36.1 percent shooting from long range.

Allen's average of 2.39 3-pointers per game is the highest in NBA history; Miller averaged just 1.84 3s per game. The only other active players to average two or more 3s per game are Stojakovic (2.21), Orlando's Gilbert Arenas (2.04) and Golden State's Stephen Curry (2.02).

Larry Bird held the NBA career record for 3-pointers from March 1986 to April 1989, when Mavs alumnus Ellis supplanted him as the all-time leader. TNT's Miller has owned sole possession of the record for more than 12 years since passing Ellis on April 13, 1998.

Dirk Nowitzki closes in on another milestone

February, 2, 2011
2/02/11
3:51
PM CT
NEW YORK -- Dirk Nowitzki is set to hit yet another career scoring milestone tonight. He needs 13 points to become just the 24th player in NBA history to record 22,000 points.

He'll likely do it at the most hallowed venue in the NBA, Madison Square Garden, where the Mavs face the New York Knicks and seek a sixth consecutive victory. It would rank as their second-longest of the season (12 from Nov. 20 - Dec. 11).

Nowitzki, averaging 23.1 points, passed Larry Bird and then Gary Payton in December to move up to 24th on the league's all-time scoring list. Next up is Clyde Drexler with 22,195 points. Nowitzki could possibly overtake Drexler before All-Star Weekend. He'd likely have already secured 23rd on the all-time list if Nowitzki had not missed nine games with a sprained right knee.

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, who the Mavs will visit Friday, ranks 22nd on the all-time scoring list with 22,852 points.

Nowitzki’s point total, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, ranks him fourth in league history among players born outside of the 50 states. The top five: Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946, born in Nigeria), Dominique Wilkins (26,668, France), Patrick Ewing(24,815, Jamaica), Nowitzki (21,987, West Germany) and Tim Duncan (21,294, Virgin Islands).

Larry Bird reaches out to new No. 25

December, 21, 2010
12/21/10
9:28
PM CT

ORLANDO, Fla. -- On the Dallas Mavericks' first possession of the fourth quarter, Dirk Nowitzki sized up a 3-pointer and knocked it down. Those three points knocked Boston Celtics great Larry Bird down to 26th and Nowitzki up to 25th on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

Larry Legend well was aware of the situation.

"I just got a text message from Larry right as the game ended saying to congratulate Dirk and that he's always been a huge fan," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "They'e had a chance to spend some time together. I'm sure he's going to text Dirk and I'm sure that will be very meaningful for Dirk."

Nowitzki, though, had yet to turn on his cell phone as he dressed following the Mavs' 105-99 win over the Orlando Magic Tuesday night for a back-to-back sweep of the Florida teams. Nowitzki scored eight points in the opening seven minutes, then went more than 17 minutes without a point.

He finally hit the big shot with 11:18 to go in the fourth quarter.

"I actually started off kind of hot and then just never got going anymore," Nowitzki said. "It's obviously an unbelievable accomplishment to a be a top-25 scorer in an amazing league with an amazing history, amazing players, so yeah, it's an unbelievable accomplishment."

Nowitzki won't stay at No. 25 for long. He's just 16 points from passing Gary Payton for the No. 24 spot. The Mavs next play at Oklahoma City on Monday.

According to a source on the team bus, Nowitzki did that get text message.

Dirk Nowitzki passes Larry Bird

December, 21, 2010
12/21/10
7:58
PM CT
ORLANDO, Fla. – Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki passed Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird to move into 25th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list Tuesday in the second quarter against the Orlando Magic.

Nowitzki, so often compared to Bird especially early in his career because of his looks and unstoppable jumper, entered Tuesday’s game with 21,781 career points, 10 shy of Bird’s total.

He recorded career point No. 21,792 on the opening possession of the fourth quartery, burying a 3-pointer, the shot he came into the league firing, but over the years has reduced from his repertoire. Nowitzki hit his first two shots and scored eight points in the first 7:13 of the game, but then went 17:05 without a point.

The German-born Nowitzki reached Bird's career total of 21,791 points slightly faster than the Celtics forward from French Lick. Bird retired after 13 seasons, while Nowitzki is playing in his 13th and is in the first season of a four-year, $80-million extension.

Dirk Nowitzki closes in on Larry Bird

December, 20, 2010
12/20/10
2:10
PM CT
MIAMI -- Dirk Nowitzki is 36 points away from tying Larry Bird for 25th on the NBA's all-time scoring list, a feat the 7-foot Dallas Mavericks forward will likely accomplish during this two-game trip through Florida.

Nowitzki, Dallas' all-time leading scorer, enters tonight's matchup at the Miami Heat with 21,755 career points. He'll reach Bird's mark of 21,791 points slightly faster than the Boston Celtics legend. Bird retired after 13 seasons, while Nowitzki is playing in his 13th.

Twice this season Nowitzki has scored 36 points or more. If he doesn't match or pass Bird, the player he was so often compared to early in his career because of his perimeter shooting, Nowitzki will likely do it Tuesday night at the Orlando Magic.

"It’s been an amazing ride," Nowitzki said. "But, stats like that you're going to be more proud of when you look back at your career in 10, 15, 20 years. You look back and I think that's when it's still special. Now I'm still chasing a dream. I'm still trying to help this franchise win. I still feel like I'm in my prime and I can score a couple more thousand hopefully."

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is in his third season with Nowitzki and he was Bird's teammate for three seasons in the mid-1980s, winning a championship in 1986. He sees more in common between the two than just their impeccable shooting.

"Both are extremely meticulous in their preparation, their dedication," Carlisle said. "The statistics are staggering, but both guys really were about winning first all the time. Dirk, if it was best for him to average 15 [points] and get eight or nine rebounds, if that was the best way to win he'd be all for that. Fortunately, for us he's an all-time great player like Larry was and we're trying to get to the top of the mountain."

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 4.6 1.7 34.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.9
AssistsR. Rondo 8.4
StealsR. Rondo 1.8
BlocksT. Chandler 1.4