The Big Ticket got into a heated exchange with a heckler on Instagram who slid into his DMs with a “Dirk owns you.” KG’s response prompted a back and forth between the two, which the user then shared via his Twitter account.
lmaooo KG responded to me on IG😭😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/MWIJwx5WP1— ²³𝙻𝚎𝙱𝚛𝚘𝚗𝚌𝚑𝚒𝚝𝚒𝚜🏀☄️🌎💞 (@BronGotGame) September 19, 2021
Although he praised Nowitzki — props to KG for trying to keep the conversation civil — the Hall of Fame big man did take a subtle shot at the Mavericks legend when he said Dirk “didn’t guard people.” Fair or not, it’s the same criticism today’s point guards have toward Steph Curry.
No analyst or stats guru will ever talk about it, but players don’t trivialize one-on-on matchups to the point when it’s all about the offense. In other words, both sides of the floor matter, and the overall winner of two players going head-to-head can’t be declared solely based on points scored.
Now, according to Sideline Sources, Nowitzki and Garnett played each other 40 times in regular-season matchups. Dirk won 23 times, averaging 23.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. KG posted a stat line of 21.9/12.1/4.4 in such games.
Are you ready to say one of them owned the other head-to-head? Is the difference of 2.9 points per game enough to say Dirk owned Garnett? No, especially since KG did guard Dirk for most of his matchups, whereas the Mavericks would always try to find the way to hide Nowitzki on the defensive side of the floor — the Warriors do the same thing with Curry.
And while in both cases, that’s a wise basketball decision, for players on the other side of a head-to-head, such a setup is frustrating — you get torched on the one end and then don’t get the opportunity for revenge on the other end. That’s why one-way superstars get a lot more respect from fans than they do from their peers.
KG still looks at Dirk as an all-time great. Today’s point guards feel the same way about Steph. But the defensive side of the floor matters. Fans might give Steph and Nowitzki a pass for the lack of it. But their peers won’t. Not so easy anyway.