Thursday, February 11, 2016


A bit disappointed about the recent remarks expressed by the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the topic of Dirk Nowitzki's career. Abdul-Jabbar went on record the other night at a function at George Mason University when asked if there was another NBA player who may have had a shot in their repertoire as indefensible as the sky-hook shot that he employed on his way to establishing himself as the greatest scorer in NBA history, and possibly the most accomplished basketball player of all-time on every level (high school and college included, although Bill Russell could make an argument). "You asked about Dirk Nowitzki," Abdul-Jabbar said. "Dirk Nowitzki's shot is very hard to block, but I don't think that he was able to have a dominant career because he couldn't do other things. If he could have shot like that and rebounded and played defense and blocked shots, then he would have been all-around, and he would have gotten more credit. He was like a one-trick pony."

It seems Abdul-Jabbar gave a response which included more than assessment of Nowitzki's difficult to defend shot, his patented one-legged fadeaway, which a reporter suggested in comparison to Abdul-Jabbar's sky-hook. And that's okay. If you know anything about the man who has owned two names throughout one lifetime, distinguished in their own right to the point they hold their own weight respectively, Alcindor and Jabbar, then you are not shocked by this comprehensive reply, but rather his opinion of a player who many consider as one of the greatest of all time. A player who in my estimation was the greatest mismatch in the Association anytime he stepped on the court. It's not that I have a problem with Abdul-Jabbar critiquing Nowitzki's game, and taking it to task for that matter. Rather it is the notion that he seems to not appreciate the approach that the 2nd greatest international player (behind Tim Duncan) and the greatest European player of all time (behind no one) took to land just five spots behind him on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Nowitzki admittedly offers that he could never compare, and for that matter, should never be compared to the player most consider to be the greatest player of all time.

But that is not what this is about, as far as Abdul-Jabbar's criticism in concerned. Nor is it about the court of public opinion possibly misconstruing or taking out of context exactly what Abdul-Jabbar's comments where intended to incite, whether positive or negative, whether truthful or untrue, and whether fair or unfair. This is to clarify the distinction between a "one trick pony" and the man who holds claim to all the accolades mentioned in support of his stellar career. Never forget that Nowitzki was often the focal point on many a 50-win Dallas Mavericks team, throughout his 17 year NBA career. Ok, check that, he has always been his team's focal point during his heyday (which seemingly appears to be ending more painlessly than Kobe Bryant's 19 year career), especially when Steve Nash took his budding MVP-type talents to Phoenix. He led his Mavericks to a championship in 2011 over the Miami Heat, besting the newly minted "Big Three" triumvirate of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, a team who many a team lay prostrate before until their defeat at the hands of Nowitzki, and his own "Big Three", Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, and Jason Terry. They may have been more like the posse of The Three Musketeers with a D'Artagnan of their own to lead the way, but they knew how to get the ball in his hands of Nowitzki in Game 4 of those same 2011 NBA Finals, when he led them to a series-tying victory that led the Mavericks out of the jaws of a 3-1 deficit they surely would have found difficult to surmount. Clutch would not begin to describe the assortment of highlights in this man's canon.

Dirk Nowitzki deserves better than to be mentioned as the one trick pony that most who follow the NBA would find misleading a moniker. He may not have been as multi-dimensional as the person who called him that or even some others whom he looms above on the career-scoring list. Lesser players have been called worse, and they should, however, this is not a statement that should be associated with this player, much less his body of work.