Nowitzki became the 17th member of the NBA’s 25,000-point club during the Mavs’ 107-89 win against the Hornets. Then he shaved off the ridiculously bushy beard he’s been growing for over two months as a part of a pact he made with one or two teammates not to shave until the Mavs hit .500 again.
The 34-year-old Nowitzki definitely wasn’t downplaying what he called “an unbelievable accomplishment,” joining the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett as the lone active players with 25,000 career points.
After exceeding the marker with a midrange jump shot over Hornets center Robin Lopez at the 6:44 mark of the 2nd quarter, Nowitzki put his right index finger high in the air as the Mavs’ bench erupted in applause.
“I was just happy to get it over with and see the whole bench get up and salute me,” Nowitzki said. “That was a special feeling. Yeah, it had been a great milestone, and like I mentioned once I look back on my career, this is going to be special.”
After shaving his beard, which he did immediately after getting to the visitors’ locker room after the win, Nowitzki reminisced about when he first arrived in the NBA as a 19-year-old out of the Wurzburg, Germany. He struggled as a rookie, uncertain he could make it in the NBA, but credited former Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson for having confidence in his unconventional game.
“I think not a lot of coaches, or maybe none, would have had a 7-footer out there shooting 3s,” Nowitzki said. “That was right up his alley, so obviously that gave me a lot of confidence. The rest is history.”
Nowitzki is widely considered the sweetest-shooting 7-footer in NBA history. He developed into an all-round scoring threat, adding a post-up game, the ability to drive and an arsenal of fadeaway shots, letting him to average 22.6 points per game during a 15-year career that has featured 11 All-Star appearances, an MVP campaign and a Finals MVP award earned when the Mavs won the 2011 championship. NFL betting lines
“He’s a player who has revolutionized the game in many ways,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle claimed. “He’s the only 7-foot-1 guy who has ever played the game the way he does, and that’s by being good round the basket, being great in midrange and being great a long distance away, driving it, having the ability to shoot any kind of off-balance shot possible.
“He’s not only a great player; he’s a trend setter and a pioneer in this game. He’ll go down in history as among the guys that really changed the game.”
Nowitzki is one of only 9 players in NBA history with at least 25,000 points and 9,000 rebounds, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon and Garnett.
This has been the most frustrating season of Nowitzki’s career. His recovery from preseason arthroscopic knee surgery caused him to miss the first 27 games — 3 times as many as he’d ever missed in a season — and was a major reason why the Mavs’ 12-year playoff streak ended.