Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is on the precipice of a historical accomplishment — becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. The record has stood for nearly 40 years since Kareem Abdul-Jabber become the sole leader in 1984.
LeBron’s resume is already enough to put him in the conversation for the greatest of all-time. Adding this record not only elevates it but almost puts the GOAT argument to rest. Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitski believes so too.
Dirk played against LeBron in the 2011 NBA Finals and for the first 16 years of James’ career. He’s fully aware of the King’s greatness, squaring off on the biggest of stages. As James inches toward breaking the record, Nowitzki touched on the implications it has on the GOAT argument, via NBA reporter Marc Stein’s substack:
“Tremendous that he can still play like this in his Year 20,” Nowitzki said. “The athleticism is incredible. I’m happy for him. I always say Michael Jordan is the GOAT — [but] if he really surpasses Kareem in the scoring record, I’m sort of running out of arguments for Michael. What this guy has done has been nothing short of incredible. The longevity.
“I always say, being called ‘King’ at 15 and how he turned out and what he’s done for communities where he played and changed so many lives — he’s a very, very special athlete. I think, for now, we need to appreciate watching him and the level he’s playing at.”
Nowitzki points to the pressure James faced from a young age and how he’s lived up to it. Being on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school junior is enough pressure to ruin anybody’s career. Instead, he became one of the greatest basketball players ever.
The longevity jumps out too for Dirk, which is often what comes to mind when describing LeBron’s greatness. At 38 years old, he’s still able to produce at a high level, capable of leading a team deep into the playoffs. It is a level of production that even LeBron himself is surprised by.
Dirk and LeBron seemed to have a bumpy relationship because of the 2011 NBA Finals. James and teammate Dwyane Wade mocked Nowitzki for being sick during Game 4 of the series, sparking a mini rivalry. Though it seems older heads have taken over and the two are on good terms.
LeBron calls Dirk the “greatest international player ever”
Prior to the Lakers’ loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas Day, a statue of Dirk Nowitzki was unveiled in front of the arena. Predictably, the statue was Dirk doing a one-legged fadeaway — his patented shot.
Nowitzki won his only championship ring against the Heat and LeBron James in 2011. James had high praise for the international player after the Christmas Day game.
“Dirk is a legend, an icon, and I think he is the greatest international player ever. I put him right up there with Manu,” he said. “What he brought here, what he brought to this city… that boy was cold man. Dirk was cold.”
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