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“I'm running out of arguments for Michael Jordan" — Dirk Nowitzki weighs in on the GOAT debate

Dirk pointed out important context when ranking LeBron's career - his path was arguably more difficult than MJ's given the fact James was in the spotlight since he was 15 years old.
Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James and Michael Jordan

Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan

Astoundingly, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is still playing at a supreme level in year 20. The soon-to-be 38-year-old is fresh off a vintage 38-point performance on the road against the Dallas Mavericks, and long-time competitor Dirk Nowitzki was in the building to watch the “King” up close.

As James squared off against Mavs’ wonder-kid Luka Doncic on the floor in what resembles the changing of the guard, the organization also unveiled a statue for Nowitzki outside of American Airlines Center.

Dirk weighs in

Naturally, given the timing and circumstances with James edging ever closer to the NBA’s all-time scoring record, on the evening Nowitzki weighed in on what his upcoming achievement means in the GOAT conversation.

I always say Michael Jordan is the GOAT,” Nowitzki said. “But if James really surpasses Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the scoring record, I’m sort of running out of arguments for Michael.

Dirk pointed out one always has to keep in mind LeBron didn't just become one of the greatest players ever. He did it with an unprecedented amount of expectation on his shoulders since James was “15 years old.” Not only that, but he contributed to so many communities off the court while becoming the greatest player of his era. 

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He’s a very, very special athlete, and for now, we need to appreciate watching him at the level he’s playing at.

The history between LeBron and Dirk.

Nowitzki is no stranger to the NBA’s scoring list in his own right, currently sitting 6th all-time after being bumped by James in October 2018. The two famously met in the 2011 NBA Finals, which turned out to be the German’s crowning moment in the league, lifting the Mavs to an unlikely title and collecting a Finals MVP along the way.

Despite the two being interconnected in this way, their careers have played out quite differently from a longevity standpoint.

Comparatively, Nowitzki averaged just 12 points in 24 minutes after two decades in the league, whereas James is showing no signs of slowing down, putting up 27.4 points and 6.7 assists in 36 minutes per night this season.

Another layer to the GOAT debate.

When it comes to the GOAT debate, Nowitzki is correct in his assessment that from a sustained greatness standpoint, James has blown Jordan and everyone else out of the water during his career.

In terms of the NBA’s scoring record lifting Bron over MJ, it is significant in the debate given Kareem’s record was historically considered unbreakable. In addition, scoring was Jordan’s calling card, and the Lakers’ superstar is going to surpass him by being a pass-first player, taking fewer shots, and accumulating nearly double the assists.

When it happens, personal opinion will determine whether it edges LeBron over Jordan, but in the meantime, we should all take Nowitzki’s advice and appreciate James’ greatness while he’s still playing. 

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