An Under-Appreciated Living Legend
USA Today Sports
No one really knows when Dirk Nowitzki is retiring.The one thing we do know for certain is that it’s soon. Sadly, at 35 years, Dirk is old in NBA terms, and watching him play his magnificent brand of basketball comes with the notion that a career that has already featured over 1,000 regular season performances and we might not see many more.
Like Kobe and Kevin Garnett, Nowitzki is one of those last standing players from the 1990’s whose influence on how we watch pro basketball is monumental. For Dirk, however, his career is ending much like how his prime will be remembered, on his terms yet understated. As fantastic of a player he is, there is a feeling of under-appreciation. LeBron James is the best power forward in the league, and in my opinion only Kevin Love has remotely come close. However there is a need to throw Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge in the debate due to both being amazing players, which is fine, but there always seems to be the passing over of the Mavericks franchise power forward.
Maybe it’s a lack of a signature performance on national TV appearances — they did just lay an egg on ESPN — or just the fate Dirk has been assigned to, but he’s been every bit as good as Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. He’s only crossed into thirty-point territory three times this season, but has been incredibly steady directing the Mavericks’ ship towards a playoff opportunity. While Monta Ellis’s resurgence grabs our attention, Nowitzki operates in the background until called upon. Making the needed play has been his specialty, and this year he has been equally sublime in doing so.
That’s how it always been for him. Being so consistently good, and lulling opponents into sleep defensively because of his unguardable fadeaway doesn’t necessary grab headlines. Dirk’s been the NBA’s quiet killer for years, a reputation only interrupted by putting on one of the greatest playoff performances the younger generation of fans have ever seen. The most notable example of Nowitzki gaining credit is the fact every fan is chasing some sort of replication of him in the draft. The power forward that can drain a three is trendy in the NBA and that may not be the case without Dirk. Outside of that and his storybook playoff performance, Dirk remains the quiet gatekeeper of Dallas’s hardwood.
So next time you are mulling over the vast options you have on NBA League Pass, maybe give the Mavericks a shot. An over 0.500 team in the west and a living legend will be waiting.