So umm, here’s the answer.
Some of you thought it was going to be Chandler Parsons at first, didn’t you?
This is the most obvious question/answer article that exists in the SB Nation NBA Blog family. And Dirk is the most obvious answer out of any team in the NBA.
Michael Jordan is obviously the Bulls’ best player (and the best player of all time), but he left for two years at the height of his career (whether it was his decision or not) and then came back to play for the Wizards. That doesn’t make him less deserving of the “greatest player in Chicago Bulls history.” But it does make him less of the “greatest player for one franchise.” The Bulls also had Scottie Pippen, and the Mavericks do not have another player on that level. Again, Jordan is the greatest player ever, but the gap between Jordan and Pippen is smaller than the gap between Dirk and the Mavericks’ second best player ever.
Hakeem Olajuwon had competition with Moses Malone, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, and one day he’ll have it with James Harden. He also left in his final year to play in Toronto.
Around the rest of the league there is the Lakers’ bevy of all-time greats, LeBron James had The Decision, Bill Russell has Larry Bird competition, Reggie Miller and Kevin Garnett aren’t on Dirk’s level, Tim Duncan had David Robinson, and Karl Malone had John Stockton. For various reasons they all cancel each other out.
These may be some of the final days of Dirk Nowitzki in the NBA, but that statue outside AAC should be coming the day after he retires.