On Tuesday, Dirk Nowitzki further cemented his Hall of Fame legacy, but his NBA career transcends statistics and accolades.
With his first 20 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, Nowitzki became the sixth player in NBA history to crack the 30,000 point plateau. He finished the night with 25, and the Dallas Mavericks came away with the 122-111 victory. Over the last 19 years, Dirk has evolved into an all-time great at his position and also on the collective list, and he’s been able to avoid any blemishes on his resume while being like by everyone who’s a fan of or involved with the NBA.
— TBN (@TBNMedia) March 8, 2017
Few players across all sports have walked that line. When you think of athletes who have balanced their on-court (or field) play with maintaining a clean image, Tim Duncan or Derek Jeter immediately come to mind.
LeBron James, the best player in the NBA who has never gotten into trouble with the law or anything like that, is loathed by countless people. Most of it comes from his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, but that’s another conversation in-and-of itself. He’s been nothing short of a remarkable public figure who’s handled his level of fame with the utmost dignity.
Nowitzki may not have the degree of recognition, but he’s up there — especially since he’s one of the most recognizable Germans in recent history. I can only imagine what he means to the people in his home country, and I’d guess they revere him how we revere Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson.
As much as we look up to Jordan and Magic, they’ve also had their fair share of scrutiny as well. It’s not what it was like when they were playing, but Jordan wasn’t perfect off the court, and neither was Magic, albeit it was because of different reasons. While gambling isn’t some people’s cup of tea, it was for Jordan, who used to bet upwards of $100K on games of rock, paper, scissors — you can see someone hating another person for that, right?
With Magic, it was the HIV/AIDS community who had a grudge against him for some time because they felt it was doing as much for the awareness of the disease.
Since then, the old-school guys who had their reasons to be disliked have seen their perceptions of them reversed.
The odds of that happening with Dirk are slim-to-none because you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like him. The championship, the MVP, the All-NBA team selections are worthy of a Hall of Fame enshrinement by themselves, but Nowitzki’s two-decade-long run of perfection is what separates him from 98 percent of athletes.
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