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Michael Jordan says Dirk Nowitzki is one of the four modern players who could play in his era

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Michael Jordan turns 50 on Sunday, which has warranted an excellent profile on the man from ESPN. In it, His Airness gives some mighty praise to Dirk Nowitzki.

Ronald Martinez

If you didn't know, Michael Jordan turns 50 on Sunday.

The greatest basketball player ever will be half a century old. Five decades. 50 years. Seems a little absurd to us normal, feeble, non-basketball GoAT people. You can only imagine how the most competitive person on the planet feels about this.

Well, Wright Thompson of ESPN.com asked and Jordan delivered. It's a mesmerizing look into Jordan and his current psyche. What he's up to. What he feels about turning 50. What he does since he can't play basketball. It's really, really great. Take 15 minutes out of your day and read the whole thing.

But there's one passage that jumped off the page, for this blog's purposes. Here is Jordan talking about comparing present players to past ones:

"JORDAN PLAYS his new favorite trivia game, asking which current players could be nearly as successful in his era. "Our era," he says over and over again, calling modern players soft, coddled and ill-prepared for the highest level of the game. This is personal to him, since he'll be compared to this generation, and since he has to build a franchise with this generation's players.

"I'll give you a hint," he says. "I can only come up with four."

He lists them: LeBron, Kobe, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki."

Awesome. Amazing. Ridiculous. Gratifying. Here's what we can take from that passage above:

1. Combined with the 2011 NBA championship and this comment, the "Dirk is soft" narrative is not only dead, it's been given lupus, buried alive, allowed to rot, dug up and shot off into space and exploded into fire.

2. Michael Jordan is a gigantic asshole. Seriously. He knows it (read the piece!) He has a yacht named Mister Terrible for goodness sakes. This man, who is so competitive he'll destroy his body playing one on one with his Bobcat players all day to quell his edge and is also the greatest basketball player we've ever known, just gave a COMPLIMENT to Dirk Nowitzki. The same Dirk that had posters of MJ on his wall when he was a boy.

3. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett. No Kevin Garnett.

The piece then (understandably) focuses on the LeBron angle, with Jordan dissecting LeBron's game. It's pretty great and like I said, you really need to check it out.

But holy shit. Michael Jordan thinks Dirk Nowitzki is one of four modern NBA players that could play in his era. That's pretty cool praise.