The Dallas Mavericks walked away with two holiday presents on Christmas Day at the American Airlines Center. Led by Luka Dončić’s near 32-point triple-double, the Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 124-115. In addition to the victory, Maverick fans experienced the revealing of the Dirk Nowitzki statue outside the arena.
The Lakers faithful also got to soak in some history, as LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant for the most games ever played on Christmas Day. With Nowitzki’s milestone being a treat to his beloved Dallas fanbase, James got to share his thoughts on how meaningful the statue of the 2011 NBA Champion and Finals MVP winner really is.
During his postgame interview, James reflected on how Nowitzki impacted professional basketball as a whole. The King even went as far as to call Nowitzki the greatest international player ever:
“Before that unveiling of what that statue was going to look like, I already knew what that statue was going to look like. It had to be a fadeaway one-leg. No question about it. Dirk is a legend, an icon, and I think he is the greatest international player ever. I put him right up there with Manu. What he brought here, what he brought to this city… that boy was cold man. Dirk was cold. He revolutionized like a stretch-four, a big that could put the ball on the ground. He could finish above the rim in his earlier years. Then just mastering that in-between game, as his game got a couple years down the line, and then he started taking out to the three-point line. You couldn’t put a small on him, because he was too big. You couldn’t put a slow big on him, because he was too quick with his first step early on. And you could just never block his shot. He shot it behind his head kind of like Larry Bird. Dirk… when you talk about top power forwards, top players of all-time at that position, he’s right up there with like Barkley and Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Kevin McHale and those guys. They tough, Dirk is tough.”
James knows firsthand how great the 7-foot big-man truly was after he and the Miami Heat blew a 2-0 series lead to Nowitzki and the Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals. With that accomplishment being a premiere highlight for the German big man’s career, Nowitzki never failed to be a consistent winner and leader for his Mavericks.
Now that his statue ceremony is over, Nowitzki has more opportunities to celebrate his career as he may be preparing his Hall of Fame induction speech after being named a 2023 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame nominee.
James chasing Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record
At 37 years old, James is averaging 27.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists on 49.7 percent shooting from the field. Although the Lakers currently stand 13th place in the Western Conference with a 13-20 regular-season record, one of the glimpses of hope for their season is to see James make history.
Heading into the 2022-23 season, James was very close to surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time leading scorer record. Currently, the four-time NBA champion is continuing to chase the legend’s scoring record, coming within 629 points.
With James’ current rate of scoring, the superstar forward would need 23 games played scoring 27.1 points per game, to become the new record holder. If there is one thing that has been consistent for the Purple and Gold, it has been James’ dedication to give everything on the floor for his team and for his legacy as he nears the end of his career.
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