LOS ANGLES – It didn’t take long for Dirk Nowitzki’s Dallas Mavericks teammates to start ribbing him about being passed by Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
James became the league’s No. 6 all-time leading scorer last Sunday in a game against the San Antonio Spurs when he bypassed Nowitzki. But the good-natured ribbing from Nowitzki’s teammates started a while back when they looked at his career point total and James’ career point total and saw that James was climbing the charts rather quickly.
“My teammates already called me “Seven” all last year to mess with me,” Nowitzki said after this morning’s shootaround at the Staples Center. “So the first thing when I walked in that morning, I think it was Maxi (Kleber), was like: ‘What up Seven?’
“It was a little fresh, a little emotional by just being passed.”
James enters Wednesday’s game against the Mavs – tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. CT – at the Staples Center with 32,231 career points. Nowitzki, who has yet to play this season due to left ankle surgery on Apr. 5, has been stuck on 31,187 points since last season.
The five players ahead of James on the all-time scoring list are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,287), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419). And since James won’t turn 34 until Dec. 30, many believe he’s going to wind up being the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
Coach Rick Carlisle uses terms like “historic greatness” when discussing James.
“I’m running out of positive adjectives to describe him,” Carlisle said. “If you look at history and you look at his age, he’s not that old.
“He could really statistically be there at the very top of the all-time scoring list. His winning percentage is ridiculously high. We have great respect for him.”
Nowitzki, meanwhile, noticed James coming in his rear view on the all-time scoring chart in a long time ago.
“The way he’s been moving, I’ve said it all along, he’s going to end up at two or he might even have a shot at one,’ Nowitzki said. “He’s not seemed to slow down, he’s scoring 27 a game again this year.
“He’s going to have a shot to be among the top two or even the top scorer of all time. He started so young (at age 18) and he doesn’t seem to slow down. It’s an honor to be passed by one of the greats.”