Dirk too focused on W's to savor milestones

November, 13, 2013
11/13/13
12:16
AM CT


DALLAS -- One day when Dirk Nowitzki is old and gray, he’ll be able to sit back and appreciate nights like this.

There aren’t many NBA players who are more interested and informed about the history of the league, but now is not the time for Nowitzki to ponder his place in it.

That’s why Nowitzki didn’t have much interest in waxing poetically after passing Jerry West for 16th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He essentially paid his respects to “The Logo” and said these sorts of milestones will mean much more to him once he’s done lacing up the Nikes.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezDirk Nowitzki's 3 over the Wizards' Al Harrington in the second half Tuesday was the hoop that passed Jerry West for 16th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
That won’t be for at least a few more years.

For now, Nowitzki is busy trying to do his part to get the Mavs back in the playoffs after a one-year postseason sabbatical that certainly wasn’t in his plans.

He’ll leave the wondering to the rest of us about how high he can climb on the list of legends. We can look at the list and see that Oscar Robertson, who ranks 10th with 26,710 points, might be within the 7-footer’s reach this season. Or that Dirk, who has 25,197 points after scoring 19 in Tuesday’s win over the Washington Wizards, could join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain in the 30,000-point club if he can produce a few more productive seasons in his golden years.

“That’s something I’m going to look at when it’s all said and done,” Nowitzki said. “Hopefully, I’m going to move up a couple more spots, but more important to me is getting back in the playoffs. That was tough last year and that’s really all I play for. All that other stuff will be great once my career is over.”

Nowitzki has much more pressing concerns now. One of those, whether or not he wants to admit it, is how his 35-year-old body will handle the grind of an NBA regular season.

The rubber sleeve Nowitzki wore on his left knee could be considered a reminder of that. It certainly wasn’t a subject Nowitzki, who is typically insightful and elaborative with the media, wanted to discuss much after the Mavs improved to 5-3.

“I’ll be all right. I’m a piece of work,” said Nowitzki, spouting Dirkspeak for a work in progress. “We just passed six games in nine days obviously and had four in five before this, so you know it is what it is.”

There’s never been any doubt about Dirk’s work ethic, but Father Time doesn’t always cooperate with men who have logged more than 40,000 NBA minutes plus playoffs and international play over the last 16 seasons. Nowitzki found that out the hard way last season, when he was sidelined for nearly two months after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

That’s not to set off alarms. There is no indication his left knee will require that sort of medical attention, but the Mavs are constantly attempting to strike a delicate balance between featuring the face of their franchise and doing what’s necessary to keep Nowitzki fresh and healthy for what they hope is a playoff push.

“This has been a fantastic career that Dirk has had,” said coach Rick Carlisle, who limits Nowitzki’s minutes to the low 30s per game and could opt to rest him for full games at some point in the regular season. “We’re going to do everything possible to extend it as long as possible.”

Nowitzki is already an NBA legend, as teammate Monta Ellis noted. The rest of his career is about establishing his place in NBA’s historical hierarchy.

“And he’s not done yet,” Ellis said. “He’s got a whole lot left in his tank.”

There’s no question Nowitzki has a lot of points left in him. His priority, however, is playoff wins.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Rick Carlisle

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.

Galloway & Company: Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Mark Cuban talk

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Marc Stein

Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: The Standoff

Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Ramona Shelburne

ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Buy or sell

Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Marc Stein

ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2