Despite “scoring 52 (he really didn’t) on the best defender in the world – Scottie Pippen,” Charles Barkley didn’t know “who the hell” 18 year old Dirk Nowitzki was and neither did everybody that booed the Dallas Mavs on Draft night when they traded Robert “Tractor” Traylor (RIP) to the Bucks for the German Import.
17 years later and we are discussing if the greatest shooting big man is one of the 20 greatest players of all-time. Too high? Mavs Coach Rick Carlisle made a case that Dirk is one of the 12 greatest.
“I think there’s a certain criteria where you can say pretty much for certain that he’s one of the top 12 all time,” Carlisle said in an interview on the “NBA on ESPN Radio” pregame show.
“And that is, there’s only been 12 guys that have been 10-time All-Stars, [NBA] Finals MVP and league MVP. So I think that firmly puts him in the top 12. And then getting into the top 10 in all-time scoring validates that even more.”
“He’s got a lot more good basketball left in him. A lot more great basketball. So I think he’s going to pick off a few more guys going up the ladder.
“And if you look at his career and the way that he has played his game [and] the fact that his game is such a radically different game than any 7-foot-1 guy that we’ve ever seen, he’s been a game-changer. … He’s been a monster in this game and he’ll only continue, I think, to gain respect as time continues to go on.”
I’m having a hard time arguing with anything Rick said. So let’s just go back to 1998 when nobody knew who the hell Dirk Nowitzki was and review his career and greatest performances.