Dirk Nowitzki is in his 18th season in the NBA, and he is still playing at an extremely high level despite the fact that he is 37 years old. Nowitzki will likely go down as the greatest European player in NBA history and a legend not only for the Dallas Mavericks but for the entire league. He has put together a career that is widely respected in the NBA community, but one legend doesn't quite respect the German forward too much. That legend is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who called Nowitzki a "one-trick pony," according to Tyler Cowen of Medium.
Abdul-Jabbar is one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen and the league's all-time leading scorer. The Hall of Famer had one of the most unstoppable shots in the history of the game with his skyhook. Abdul-Jabbar was asked if Nowitzki's fadeaway was the most unstoppable shot since his skyhook in an appearance at George Mason University.
"Dirk Nowitzki's shot is very hard to block, but I don't think that he was able to have a dominant career because he couldn't do other things. If he could have shot like that and rebounded and played defense and blocked shots, then he would have been all-around, and he would have gotten more credit. He was like a one-trick pony," said Abdul-Jabbar.
Very interesting comments coming from Abdul-Jabbar, especially considering Nowitzki is a surefire Hall of Famer when he is done with his career. The idea of Nowitzki only being a shooter is also an interesting one considering he has averaged almost eight rebounds per game in his career and has also been a pretty good defender. Yes, Nowitzki is a 7-footer who was never much of a shot blocker, and he wasn't great on defense, but he certainly had an impact in many more different areas than just shooting. Nowitzki unsurprisingly disagreed with Abdul-Jabbar's comments, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas.
"I mean, it's actually not the first time he said some stuff. I'm not sure why. I guess he's not a big fan of my game, which is OK," Nowitzki said. "But I like to think I was dominant at some point especially on the offensive end of my career, in my prime. It is what it is. People have opinions. He's one of the greatest ever to play the game, so I'm not going to get in a war of words. I respect his opinion. I don't necessarily agree with it, but it is what it is."
Nowitzki is a 13-time All-Star, a former league MVP and an NBA Finals MVP, so he certainly has a very good argument here. Nowitzki also happens to be sixth all time in points scored in the NBA, and as he says, "I don't think you can get to sixth in scoring in this league over 18 years and not be at some point at least somewhat dominant."
Abdul-Jabbar is one of the best players of all time, so when he talks people listen. It just so happens that in this case he might be a little off by saying Nowitzki is a "one-trick pony" and was never dominant, because all of the numbers and the accolades tend to tell a different story. Nowitzki still leads the Mavericks in scoring with 17.5 points per game despite how late he is in his career, so regardless of what Kareem thinks, Dirk is an all-time great player and far from just a shooter.