LeBron James on Dirk Nowitzki: ‘I think he’s the greatest international player ever’

Zach Stevens
3 Min Read

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, 124-115, on the same day the Mavs organization unveiled a statue of Dirk Nowitzki.

James later praised Nowitzki, calling him the “greatest international player ever.”

The four-time MVP got to witness Nowitzki up close and personal when his Miami Heat played the Mavs in the 2011 NBA Finals. It was the highlight of the German native’s NBA career, as he finally got his championship ring after years of falling short in the playoffs.

The league has seen a number of special foreign players, including Hakeem Olajuwon, Manu Ginobili and now Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Nowitzki was a one-of-a-kind superstar.

When he entered the NBA in 1998, it was still a league based upon low-post play and traditional big men who threw their weight around in the paint. Nowitzki, along with Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, helped revolutionize the power forward position by becoming a great outside shooter.

Eventually, his signature shot became a one-legged fallaway jumper, a shot that was reminiscent of Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird. It allowed Nowitzki to score over 31,000 points in his 21-year career and transform the Mavs from a laughingstock to a perennial contender.

As great as he was, the Mavs have someone on their current roster who seems on pace to surpass him and possibly end up as the greatest foreign player ever in his own right: Luka Doncic.

On Sunday, Doncic scored 32 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished off nine assists. At age 23, he already has a relatively high basketball IQ, not to mention a strong competitive spirit.

He came into Sunday’s contest averaging 32.8 points, 8.7 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game.

But no matter what Doncic accomplishes in the years to come, Nowitzki will always hold a special place in the hearts of Mavs fans, especially considering he was the one who led them to their first world title against James.

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Zach has always had a profound love and respect for the Lakers that has inspired him to write about the franchise. He has a great deal of admiration for LeBron James, and his overall knowledge about the NBA has made him a solid addition to the Lakers Daily staff.