Nowitzki passes Chamberlain for 6th all-time in scoring
Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki is now the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history, scoring four points in the first quarter of Monday’s game with the New Orleans Pelicans to pass one-time leader Wilt Chamberlain.
Nowitzki scored the decisive points on a trademark fadeaway jumper.
After the historic field goal, the Mavericks played a tribute video during the next stoppage in play, and Nowitzki was applauded by the crowd at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Nowitzki trails No. 5 Michael Jordan by more than 800 points. LeBron James (32,439) is the only other active player in the top five.
Overall, Nowitzki finished with eight points on 3-for-6 shooting in the Mavs 129-125 overtime loss to the Pelicans. He got his first basket off a 20-footer via an assist from Jalen Brunson. Then the 40-year-old German took a feed from Luka Doncic and backed down Kenrich Williams before turning and launching from the top of the key.
“I took my time and faced him up like I’ve done a million times and tried to shoot over him,” Nowitzki said. “It was good to get it over with in the first two shots.”
Dallas rookie Luka Doncic turned in a triple-double of his own with 29 points, 13 boards and 10 assists, including the pass that put Nowitzki higher up in the record book.
“He deserves everything good that happens to him,” Doncic said. “It’s amazing the things he has accomplished, but this one is really amazing for him.”
The two jumpers were a fitting way for Nowitzki to pass Chamberlain, whose listed height of 7-foot-1 is only an inch taller than Nowitzki. But the two achieved their point totals with contrasting styles of play.
Chamberlain once averaged more than 50 points in a season, dominating inside to such a degree that the NBA widened the paint in an effort to neutralize him.
Nowitzki, meanwhile, has made nearly 2,000 3-pointers in his prolific career, establishing the trend of big men with long-range shooting capabilities. He’s an 88 percent free throw shooter, 37 points higher than Chamberlain’s mark.
“The league wanted a change, and I came in at the right time,” Nowitzki said. “They basically forced teams to do a little more movement and more pick-and-roll. All the guys now can shoot and spread the floor. It was just perfect for me and for my skill set.”
Nowitzki’s skill set has naturally diminished with age, especially this season. He missed the first 26 games after offseason ankle surgery and has averaged only six points per game – 15 below his career average. He started for just the ninth time Monday and played 12 minutes.
“Not many people on the outside know the kinds of sacrifices to be on the floor to accomplish something like this,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s just another credit to how he’s approached his entire career.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.