By Nick Muhl
Monday Night, in their game versus the Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki scored his 27,000th career point. Nowitzki achieved a huge career milestone in the Mavericks 107-80 win. He now becomes only the fourth player in NBA history, joining Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Karl Malone, to score 27,000 points with one team.
In his 17th NBA season, the 36-year-old forward jumped over Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon on the all time career scoring list. This is significant because until now Olajuwon, from Nigeria, has been revered as the greatest international basketball player to ever play on the NBA. Nowitzki, born and raised in Germany, now has surpassed Olajuwon’s scoring average and presents a valid argument as the best international player to ever play in the NBA.
In his 17 seasons, Nowitzki has quietly become one of the best players to ever play basketball. In an NBA era highlighted by superstars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and even Tim Duncan, Nowitzki continues to add to his hall of fame resume. The forward has been named to the NBA All Star team 12 times, won one NBA Championship and the second European player to ever win the NBA most valuable player award.
Michael Lee, writer for The Washington Post, highlighted in his Monday night article why it is so significant for an international player to have had such great success in the NBA.
“When Nowitzki entered the league during the lockout-shortened season in 1999, the NBA only had 38 international players and most 7-footers still played with their backs to the basket in an effort to dominate inside. This season, the league has a record 101 international players from 37 countries and territories and big men hovering around the perimeter is now commonplace.”
As Lee points out, Nowitzki has not only become such a great player, but opened the doors for more international basketball players to play in the NBA. The forward, in his moment of triumph and spotlight chose to thank the fans for his accomplishment,
“It was a really special moment to do it at home in front of the fans who have been with me through my 16-17 years here and they gave me a great standing ovation. At the next timeout they showed a video with moments from my career – that was really special and definitely I had some goosebumps. I was just thinking what an amazing ride it has been and how lucky I have been to really come here with an open mind and have people be great to me.”
Hopefully, as his final seasons quickly approach, the Dallas forward will receive more media attention as he continues to break career milestones. His accomplishments have not only opened the door for more international basketball players to join the NBA, but for their accomplishments to be more recognized by sports media.