Dirk Nowitzki’s last couple seasons have been crammed with milestones and accomplishments of historical significance. He’s entered the top-10 on the NBA’s all-time career scoring list and recently moved up to sixth place, passing Shaquille O’Neal in late December.
Tonight in Milwaukee, he’ll add another impressive achievement to his already long list, as he’ll become just the 17th player in NBA history to play in 1,300 NBA regular season games.
It requires a bit of luck, sure, to play so long in this league. You have to avoid career-altering or career-ending injuries, of course, to last at least 16 seasons. But you also have to avoid the small bumps and bruises and work responsibly through potentially nagging injuries. Nowitzki is notorious for taking tremendously good care of his body. He follows a very strict diet and doesn’t drink alcohol during the season. He spends more time with the Mavs trainers than some of us do with our family. There’s perhaps no one in the NBA better in tune with his own body than Nowitzki, and that’s been a huge reason why he’s missed only 83 games in his career due to injury, illness, suspension, rest, or DNP-CD.
The list of players with at least 1,300 games under their belt is full of familiar names like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Mavs legend Jason Kidd. But it also includes some names you might not expect, such as Clifford Robinson and Buck Williams, who rank ninth and 14th, respectively, on the career games played list. Nowitzki will tie Ray Allen with game No. 1,300, and he’ll likely pass Williams and Elvin Hayes on the list by the end of the month. Health permitting, he’ll end the season ranked 11th on the list, with a very strong chance of passing Kidd (currently seventh all-time) next season.
Just for fun, here’s how Nowitzki’s career numbers stack up against other members on the illustrious list.
You didn’t exactly need me to tell you this, but Nowitzki is as unique a player as he is legendary. No matter how you slice it, he stacks up well against the very best to ever wear a uniform, and he’s done it all in Dallas. Here’s to another hundred games for the greatest Maverick there’s ever been.
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