Commemorative t-shirts weren’t made, a tribute video wasn’t edited and ready to play on the jumbotron, and the national media didn’t descend on the city. In fact, if you didn’t know it was coming, you may have missed it completely. Regardless of the attention it warranted, Dirk Nowitzki set another milestone Wednesday night as he scored 31,000 points for his career.
With 8:03 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Nowitzki received the ball on a bounce pass from J.J. Barea near the elbow. With Jerami Grant of the Oklahoma City Thunder guarding him, Nowitzki puts his back onto Grant before taking a dribble and spinning to face the basket. What happens next is what has come to define Nowitzki’s career. He fell back, kicked out his right leg, released off his left, and shot. Grant’s arm stretched out but it was no use. The ball swished through the nylon.
“It’s another chapter in an amazing book,” Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “It’s one mind-boggling accomplishment after another. He does it with such grace and ease it’s just hard to put into words the amount of work that’s gone into this for 20 years but really it’s 30. My hat’s off to him.”
Nowitzki finished the game with 12 points, bringing his career total to 31,005. Last season, Nowitzki became just the sixth player in NBA history to record 30,000 points for his career. LeBron James joined those ranks this year. Before everything’s said and done, Nowitzki will likely pass Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring least. He sits just 414 points behind him. While he likely won’t pass him this season, he’ll do it next year. And if you listen closely, it sounds like Dirk will be back next season.
“Yeah, I mean, [30,000] was obviously the big accomplishment but [scoring 31,000] still means that I’m out there helping the guys, scoring a little bit still,” Nowitzki said. “It’s still fun. It’s still fun to be out there with the guys battling good teams like tonight. It was a good one—fun to be a part of.”