DALLAS – Sometimes within the next week, Dirk Nowitzki will past Wilt Chamberlain and become the No. 6-leading scorer in the history of the National Basketball Association.
But the Dallas Mavericks’ legendary forward acknowledged that reaching that milestone — he needs just 35 points to pass Chamberlain — doesn’t have the same cache as when he reached the 30,000-point plateau during a home game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Mar. 7, 2017.
“I think 30,000 was a huge step,” Nowitzki said after Monday’s practice at the Lympo practice facilities. “It was being kind of hyped up for a long time, and I came out there and the 30K shirts were laying there. This will be big, but not quite as big as 30K, but this obviously has been a long time coming.”
Mavs personnel laid 30K T-shirts on all the seats inside American Airlines Center when Nowitzki needed 20 points to achieve that milestone against the Lakers. Putting aside the pressure that came with those mitigating circumstances, Nowitzki went out and poured in 18 points in the first quarter of that game, and added the two more points he needed to reach 30,000 with 10:58 remaining in the second quarter on – what else? — a one-legged fadeaway 15-foot jumper.
Still, Nowitzki said passing Chamberlain pales in comparison to eclipsing the 30,000-point barrier. And with his recovery from left ankle surgery last Apr. 5 taking much longer than expected, leaping over Chamberlain has been no small task.
“It was only (233) points before the season (started to pass Chamberlain), and its been obviously a slow, slow crawl toward this,” Nowitzki said. “Like I said the other day in Orlando, 200 points used to be two weeks and now it’s a whole season.
“But it is what it is. I’m going to keep working and hopefully eventually it’ll happen.”