While all the hoopla in the area focused on Doug McDermott’s climb on the college scoring list, my attention has been locked in on another scoring climb.
Dirk Nowitzki, my childhood (and now adult) idol, moved into 12th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list Wednesday when he past former Celtic great John Havlicek. The 7-foot German has amassed 26,426 career points heading into Friday’s action.
Doug’s climb has been impressive, but what Dirk has done in his career has shifted the game of basketball forever. Before Dirk, it was rare for a power forward to drift beyond the arc and hit 3-pointers. Big guys were supposed to be around the basket, let the little guys do the shooting. Now, it’s rare to see a power forward who can’t extend beyond the arc. A player like Doug, who can score outside and inside with equal efficiency, wouldn’t exist without the impact Dirk has had on the game. You can even see Doug adopt Dirk’s trademark one-knee up fad-away jumper at times this year.
For as long as I could remember, I was a huge Dirk fan. While playing grade school basketball I would wear the same socks as he did: white socks up to the calf. I would let my hair grow long and shaggy like him, but get it cut soon after he did.
Idolizing Dirk hasn’t been without his heartbreak. In 2006, when Dirk’s Dallas Mavericks met up with the Miami Heat in the NBA finals, nothing was safe in my home. The Mavericks won the first two games of the seven-game series, and the 14-year old me all but assumed the championship was a lock. But the Heat went on to win the next four games to clinch the title. How did I handle it? Let’s just say I had to buy a new remote.
But in 2011, all was forgotten when Dirk finally got a title, exacting revenge on the Heat. Throughout the long playoff run, I was donning my white Dirk jersey during just about every game. I even wore that jersey when I ran the Papillion Marathon about a month before the finals, showing all the runners my confidence that it was the Mavericks’ year. Dirk won NBA Finals MVP and solidified his spot as a top echelon player in NBA history.
Now, seeing him climb the list of all-time scorers and etching his name into NBA history, I get a sense of satisfaction. In doing some estimated projections for the next few years, I came to the conclusion that if the 35-year old Maverick can put together three more solid seasons (1,000-1,200 points a year), he would likely reach No. 6 on the NBA’s all-time list. He would be ahead of players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robertson and Shaquille O’Neal.
The most important thing for me now it to make sure to see him play live before he calls it quits. It’ll be safe to say I’ll be heading to Dallas sometime in the near future.