Dirk Nowitzki finally had his jersey retired by the Mavs after their 99-92 win against the Warriors on Wednesday. Ahead of the game, several Golden State players paid tribute to Dirk, praising his iconic basketball run.
Warriors superstars praise Nowitzki
In a video posted on their social media accounts, the Warriors players, led by their star trio, thanked the Mavs' legend for everything he's done for the game.
"Dirk, congratulations on your jersey retirement,"Steph Curry said. "It's obviously a well-deserved acknowledgement and accomplishment for your entire career, and doing it in one city. Representing Dallas, Germany, your entire family, teammates, and everybody. So congratulations on a job well done, I hope you feel the love, and you changed the game, man. From a big man shooting the way you did, it's legendary. Enjoy it!"
Draymond Green's message was along the same lines, filled with appreciation and respect for one of the most likable superstars in NBA history. Klay Thompson's, however, was much more specific in terms of Dirk's historical significance for the game, the Mavs organization, and especially, the shooting.
The greatest Maverick in the history of the franchise. In my book, you're one of the greatest shooters of all-time, obviously the greatest shooting big-man of all-time. We might be the Splash Bros, but you're a Splash god for what you've done for the game. Thank you, Dirk.
Dirk's shooting legacy
Nowitzki's impact on the game, particularly shooting, isn't centered around numbers -- for his career, the seven-footer shot 38% from three on just 3.4 attempts. For comparison's sake, Curry's lowest 3PAs mark was 4.6 in his sophomore season; Klay's was 4.1 as a rookie.
Even cumulatively, Dirk is 13th on the NBA's all-time list of three-pointers made. Guys like Jamal Crawford and even his former teammate Jason Kidd are above No.41, and the likes of Kyle Lowry, Paul George are a lock to pass him. These numbers lack context -- Nowitzki's prime was a decade away from the three-point era -- and they don't tell the whole story about what the German has done for the future generations of shooters.
To get the full picture, one needs to look at today's seven-footers and how their games differ from two decades ago. Some would say that's Splash Bros' effect, and that's true -- they were the trendsetters in what has turned into a collective obsession with three-point shots. But Dirk was the one who paved the way, showing that kind of playstyle can lead to an all-time great NBA career.
In other words, Steph and Klay made it ok for everyone to shoot long-range jumpers -- Dirk did it for big men. All the other accolades aside, that might be his greatest impact on the game of basketball.