You might not think Dirk Nowitzki has much in common with Stephen Curry, but it turns out they’re not so different. Both players are superstars, both have won MVPs, and both have a ring.

More importantly, both players have changed the way we think about players at their positions. Nowitzki literally stretched the limits of what a power forward is capable of, launching three-pointers and playing a face-up game in the post the likes of which we’d never seen from a big man. Curry, meanwhile, put to rest the notion that a team whose point guard led the team in scoring could never win a championship. The Warriors star routinely takes 30-plus-foot pull-up three-pointers in transition and in the halfcourt. Neither player is conventional, and that’s good.

To prove just how similar our perception of these superstars are, here are 10 quotes — five about Curry, five about Nowitzki — that have been published between 1998-2015. Check them out and take a guess at who each one is about, then click to find out and to see who said it. (Don’t cheat!)

If anything, hopefully this exercise shows you not only that these two have more in common than you thought, but also that each player has made a huge impact on the sport, and one that we might not fully understand and appreciate for years to come.

(He) integrates volume, efficiency, and ubiquity better than anyone right now. Moreover, he is hardly ever wide open when he shoots.

Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry ranked the NBA’s best shooters in 2014 and wrote this about Dirk. (He ranked Steph second.)

The boy is a genius.

NBA legend Charles Barkley said this about Nowitzki in 1998 after Dirk dominated an exhibition game between European up-and-comers and current NBA players — including Barkley and Scottie Pippen — on the Nike Hoop Heroes tour. That same year, Nowitzki scored 33 points at the Nike Hoop Summit, taking the basketball world by storm and setting the event’s all-time scoring record, a mark which would stand for 12 years.

…best shooter to ever play.

Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant tweeted the compliment about Curry in 2014. It’s well-known that Durant looks up to Nowitzki, even going as far as to say he’d take Nowitzki and Larry Bird as teammates on his dream (fictional) 3-on-3 team. This praise, though, went to Steph.

Plain and simple. Revolutionized his position.

ESPN insider Marc Stein dropped this Twitter nugget the night Dirk passed Shaquille O’Neal for sixth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in December 2015. Although Stein has spent much of this season chronicling Curry and his club’s success in Oakland, the reporter is based in Dallas and has spent years closely following the Mavericks, Nowitzki in particular. There’s perhaps no greater media authority when it comes to Dallas basketball than the ESPN man.

(He) is changing the way the game is played before our eyes. What he's doing right now, he's changing the way our game is going to be played in the future. It's really historic.

This high praise comes from none other than Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle, but it’s not directed toward his own player. He said this about Steph ahead of the two teams’ December 2015 matchup. Carlisle knows a thing or two about players who change the game, too, as he’s spent the last eight seasons coaching a player who forever changed the power forward position, ushering in an era of 4-out, wide-open basketball.

If you train hard enough, you can learn to shoot like (him). You can be that guy. You can make money playing basketball at its highest level.

The Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley mused on Steph’s abilities and how, as a relatively small player, his monumental success has impacted the culture perhaps more than a super-sized player would. In the same 2015 article, Bickley compares Curry to Steve Nash, long a running buddy with Nowitzki in Dallas during the early-2000s.

Far below NBA standard in regard to explosiveness and athleticism. is one of the most well-respected draft sites out there, but it could not have been more off the mark when it had this to say about Steph in 2009. This runs well alongside Bickley’s column about Curry, a superstar with almost relatable qualities and shortcomings. It’s true that Curry isn’t a superathlete in the same vein as players like Russell Westbrook or John Wall, but — as has been the case with Dirk throughout his career — that hasn’t stopped him from winning an MVP and a championship.

He's a defensive liability. He's not an especially good rebounder or passer. He does not have the skills to make his whole team better, to lead by example and will them all to play like a champion.

Dirk faced his fair share of critics early in his career, and even through his physical prime. Bleacher Report published this about him in 2009 in a column which argued the Mavericks would never win a championship with Nowitzki as the best player. Two years later, Dirk would prove that idea — an opinion many national and local media shared — to be nothing but absolute hogwash, as Nowitzki went on one of the greatest individual playoff runs we’ve ever seen.

He was aware of what was being printed in all of the scouting reports. He was very conscientious of it. It just continued to motivate him to do what he did best, which was make defenders pay the price for even attempting to guard him.

Avery Johnson, Dirk’s former coach, had this to say about Nowitzki in a 2015 Bleacher Report article by DFW-based writer Jeff Caplan. Both Dirk and Steph have faced plenty of criticism throughout their careers, yet both have turned doubt — both real and perceived — into motivation to get even better. Both are members of the 50/40/90 club and both are virtually unguardable. You’d be hard-pressed to find two more efficient shooters in this era. Both have been so good that scouting reports are almost useless; there’s no way to slow down Curry now, and in Nowitzki’s prime there was nothing you could do to keep him from getting his customary 25 points.

(He) is leaving his mark on the game, but his legacy won't be seen this year. It will show up five, 10 years down the road when the younger generation who grew up watching him play imitate his style.

The Denver Post’s Joe Nguyen wrote this about Steph in 2015. This is perhaps the most interesting quote of all, because it forecasts an NBA landscape filled with players who grew up watching Curry do what Curry does. Nguyen predicts the game will change as a direct result of what the Warriors star is doing today. Sound familiar? It should. The NBA is a different league today than it was when Dirk entered the mix almost 20 years ago. Teams rely on stretch-4s now like never before, and it has a heck of a lot to do with Nowitzki. The power forward position is now arguably the most pivotal in the entire league — we see coaches gameplan around who the other team has at that spot more than we do at any other position. Nowitzki didn’t just begin the revolution. He was the revolution.

Share and comment

More Mavs News