Dirk Nowitzki: Larry Bird Reincarnated?
Today’s NBA is predicated on three point shooting and guard play. Back in the day, it was a much different game with the big men taking center stage. Offenses were concentrated on maximizing the post skills of the league’s big men. Big men mostly battled in the paint for points and rebounds and tried to deter smaller players from venturing in the paint.
Enter Larry Bird. Larry was a different breed of big man. He was a guard trapped in a power forward’s body. While not as fast or athletic as many of the players in the NBA, Larry relied on the basketball skills he first acquired in the fields of French Lick, Indiana and honed in Indiana State University. Larry had excellent shooting skills and had very good basketball instincts.
Larry’s basketball exploits would be part of NBA lore and there would not be an NBA player who could touch him until Dirk Nowitzki. While Larry had a formidable frame at 6’9” and 220 lbs., Dirk was no “small guy” either at 7’0” and 245 lbs. Both could shoot as well as any guard and used their long frames to corral loose rebounds.
While not flashy, both Larry and Dirk proved to be extremely popular among the fans who appreciated substance over style. Larry was nominated twelve (12) times to the All Star Game and won the All Star MVP honors in 1982. Dirk was nominated thirteen (13) times.
Both Bird and Nowitzki were expert marksmen who among the best shooting big men of all time. Larry is a 37.6% career three point shooter, is a two-time member of the elite 50-40-90 club (50% field goal percentage, 40% three point field goal percentage and 90% free throw percentage). He is also a three time Three-Point Shootout champion in three consecutive years. Dirk is a 38.1% career three point shooter, is a one-time member of the elite 50-40-90 club.
The two also have tasted post season success as Larry has been a three time champion with two Finals MVP awards under his belt while Dirk has been to the Promised Land once and has one Finals MVP award. Before their arrival, the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks respectively were in shambles and were mediocre. They have both been hailed as franchise saviors and have spent their entire career with the same team they started with.
At the end of the day, Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki both have Hall of Fame worthy numbers. Larry has career averages of 24.3 points, 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists. Dirk has career averages of 22.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists.