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Dirk Nowitzki passes Shaq, becomes the sixth all-time NBA scorer

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Nowitzki moves past Shaquille O'Neal.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dirk Nowitzki took 18 years to get to this moment. With an early scoring flurry on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets, he passed Shaquille O'Neal and became the sixth all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

The left wing jumper from 18 feet gave Dirk 28,597 points in his illustrious career, one that has been spent entirely in Dallas. This also may be the final legend that the 37-year-old Nowitzki passes, with Wilt Chamberlain, the NBA's fifth leading scorer, now nearly 2,800 points away.

That Dirk made it this far is astonishing and he deserves all the adoration in the world for this remarkable career. When he entered the league as a gangly 7-foot European, the NBA hadn't ever seen a player who played the game like he did. Nobody shot the ball at his height with his frequency and accuracy, or aggressively led fast breaks despite being the tallest player on the floor. Dirk's rookie season was a struggle and he questioned at times whether he belonged in the NBA. By year two, there was no question he was special.

Here's the current top 10 list.

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38387
2. Karl Malone 36928
3. Kobe Bryant 32916
4. Michael Jordan 32292
5. Wilt Chamberlain 31419
6. Dirk Nowitzki 28609
7. Shaquille O'Neal 28596
8. Moses Malone 27409
9. Elvin Hayes 27313
10. Hakeem Olajuwon 26946

Here's the shot that Dirk passed Shaq on.

You can watch him climb through the top 10 scoring list over the years.

Will he pass Shaq tonight?? Last call to make your predictions:

Posted by Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, December 22, 2015

With another year of play, Nowitzki should also become the sixth player to reach 30,000 career points. If he plays an additional year, it's possible he could approach Chamberlain, at least before LeBron James catches back up to him. But right now, let's appreciate this moment. There will never be another player like Dirk.