The NBA Draft classes of 1984 and 1996 are perhaps the most famous in history, but the class of 1998 has to be right up there. Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, and Paul Pierce have each had incredible careers, and as ESPN’s Tim MacMahon writes, have combined to score 80,413 career points. The group is inching closer to becoming the top-scoring trio in NBA history (82,995 is the mark to beat).
In three separate Q&A sessions, Nowitzki, Carter, and Pierce each reflected on their draft-night experiences, weighed in on each other’s careers, and spoke about what they still enjoy at this point and what’s still ahead of them in their careers.
For example, Nowitzki relayed a story about flying to the U.S. with the Mavs’ brain trust in the days following the draft. At the time, he wasn’t fully committed to playing in the NBA, as he’d only competed in Germany’s second tier. But then-head coach Don Nelson hosted Nowitzki at his home and invited some of his teammates over in an effort to ease Dirk’s concerns.
“That’s when I met Nashie [Steve Nash] for the first time, because they flew him in for the press conference,” Nowitzki told MacMahon. “It kind of clicked from there. I think on my second night, Nellie threw a little barbecue at his house for me, and Fin [Michael Finley] came and Strick [Erick Strickland] came. Nashie was there and some of the other guys who were in town. I just got to mingle a little bit and meet them and speak as much as I could with my English.”
Then, of course, the infamous introductory press conference followed shortly thereafter, once Nowitzki had committed to the Mavericks.
MacMahon asked each player what makes the others special. Pierce showed Nowitzki great admiration in his answer.
“Dirk changed the game, man,” he said. “When you look at what he was able to bring with his versatility and his shooting as a 7-footer, to be able to put the ball on the ground, he was one of the first stretch 4s that you see more of today. I mean, he revolutionized the game. Players like that are transcendent. He was a transcendent player.”
Meanwhile, Nowitzki glowed when discussing Carter, who was his teammate in Dallas from 2011-14.
“I mean, he was a tough matchup because he could post, and he was so freakishly athletic,” he told ESPN. “He’d come off a down pick and just jump up and really nobody could get to his shot. Obviously, he’s so athletic that once he got going to the rim, you could challenge him, but he was going to put you on a poster. He was fun to watch during his prime.”
Every Mavs fan and basketball junkie would find this to be an enjoyable read. These are three basketball legends, and each is approaching the end of what will go down as storied careers. They could all wind up in the Hall of Fame together some day, too. Click here to read the full story.