DALLAS — Becoming just the sixth player in NBA history to reach the 30,000-point plateau in front of the fans that have cheered him on for 19 seasons, 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki says the milestone couldn’t have come in a more fitting moment.
Entering Tuesday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers needing just 20 points to reach the 30,000-point mark for his career, Nowitzki staged a vintage performance in the first half with 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting. In the process, Nowitzki joined an exclusive fraternity that had featured only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. The 7-footer also became just the third player to ever amass 30,000 points with one franchise, matching Malone’s accomplishment with Utah and Bryant’s feat with the Lakers. But after being greeted with a standing ovation following his patented turnaround jumper over Lakers big man Larry Nance Jr. at the 10:58 mark of the second quarter to reach the milestone, Nowitzki says he was elated to share the historic moment with the Dallas fans.
“It was almost like it was planned,” Nowitzki said after moving 1,414 points behind Chamberlain (31,419) for the sixth spot on the league’s all-time scoring list. “With all of the eight-point games I’ve been having after (the All-Star break), it kind of set it up well for this to happen at home and during this homestand. I’m happy that it worked out this way.
“It’s been sort of surreal,” he modestly added after eclipsing the milestone during Tuesday’s 122-111 win with his highest-scoring half since January 11, 2014. “I mean, 30,000 is amazing. It’s a lot of points. Every milestone makes you reflect a little bit and reflect on the people that have helped you and been with you all this way. From all the coaches, to [Mavs owner Mark Cuban] and all the teammates I’ve had, and the fans who went with me through thick and thin. So, it’s been an amazing ride. Hopefully a couple of more baskets are coming, and then it’s time to ride into the sunset.”
The milestone was just Nowitzki’s latest accolade in a Dallas uniform, adding to his future Hall of Fame resume. But after passing Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal (28,596) and moving up to the No. 6 spot on the all-time scoring list in Brooklyn during a 119-118 overtime victory on December 23, 2015, Nowitzki admits that reaching his latest milestone in front of the hometown crowd was even more rewarding.
Already the top foreign-born scorer of all-time, Nowitzki became the sixth player in league history to eclipse the 29,000-point plateau with a three-pointer against Philadelphia at home on February 21, 2016. Nowitzki has now joined Bryant, John Stockton and Tim Duncan as the only players in league history that have spent their entire careers with one franchise and played 19-plus seasons. At the end of his current contract, which ends at the conclusion of next season, Nowitzki will have played 20 seasons with the Mavericks (27-36) to join Bryant as the sole members of the NBA’s 20-year, only one-team club. But with the Mavs now just two games behind the Denver Nuggets in the race for the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff position, Nowitzki says his sole focus remains on trying to lead his team back to the postseason.
“I’m happy we’re winning games. That’s the No. 1 thing for me right now. We’re still trying to make this playoff push and we’re playing well, so the main thing is we won the game and it happened early,” Nowitzki said after the Mavericks ran their winning streak to three while he reached the milestone. “Leading up to it, it hasn’t been a lot of great scoring nights. It was a couple of off-shooting nights, and it’s been a little slow there. But this was perfect. Everything was kind of planned out perfect, so I’m happy it worked out that way.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor on Friday night, hosting the Brooklyn Nets. The game will tip off at 8 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
J.J. Barea (left calf strain) — out