NOW­ITZKI JOINS THE ELITES

Mav­er­icks star reaches 30,000 ca­reer points

New Straits Times - - Sport -

GER­MAN star Dirk Now­itzki be­came only the sixth player in NBA his­tory to reach 30,000 ca­reer points on Tues­day as the Dal­las Mav­er­icks cruised to vic­tory over the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers.

Now­itzki, who needed just 20 points to reach the mile­stone head­ing into the game, reached the mark in the sec­ond quar­ter with a fade­away jump shot.

The 38-year-old now joins Ka­reem Ab­dul-Jab­bar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jor­dan and Wilt Cham­ber­lain as the only men to make 30,000 points in the NBA.

Now­itzki’s land­mark scor­ing elec­tri­fied the Mav­er­icks’ Amer­i­can Air­lines Cen­tre sta­dium, with the veteran mobbed by a group of team­mates and team owner Mark Cuban.

NBA com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver paid trib­ute to Now­it­ski’s achieve­ment in a state­ment, hail­ing the Mavs star as “a model player and ter­rific am­bas­sador for our game.”

“This lat­est ac­com­plish­ment fur­ther es­tab­lishes his legacy as one of the NBA’s great­est play­ers,” Sil­ver said in a state­ment.

Cleve­land Cava­liers star LeBron James — who with just over 28,300 ca­reer points could be­come the next player to break 30,000 — also is­sued a salute via so­cial me­dia, break­ing off from din­ner at his home to record a video mes­sage.

“I’ve gotta con­grat­u­late Dirk Now­itzki on putting up 30,000 points. I’m watch­ing the game right now,” James said. “The big fella, con­grat­u­la­tions, boy, on that big 30,000. Woo! And he on fire, too.

“Very ef­fi­cient tonight. There was no way I was miss­ing this mo­ment. That’s big time, man. Con­grat­u­la­tions. Hope­fully I can join you at some point, big fella. Salute.”

Dal­las even­tu­ally eased to a 122-111 vic­tory in Tues­day’s game, im­prov­ing to 27-36 to re­main on the fringes of the race for post­sea­son places.

Now­itzki con­firmed last week he plans to see out the full term of his two-year con­tract with the Mav­er­icks, which will take his re­mark­able ca­reer into a 20th sea­son next year.

Now­itzki played in only six of the Mavs’ open­ing 29 games this sea­son af­ter an Achilles prob­lem. He is av­er­ag­ing 13.6 and 6.4 re­bounds over 34 games.

If he re­turns for a 20th sea­son, Now­itzki would match the record set by Los An­ge­les Lak­ers star Bryant, who played 20 sea­sons with one fran­chise be­fore re­tir­ing last year.

“Twenty is a great num­ber,” Now­itzki said last week in an in­ter­view.

“I think 20 sea­sons also with one team, like I’m try­ing to do it — I think only Kobe has done it — that’s an­other great ac­com­plish­ment. So I kind of want to make the 20 fold. Plus that sum­mer I’m turn­ing 40. I think that’s also a good num­ber to be in the league ... from 20 to 40.

“That’s what I’m look­ing at. Hope­fully I’ll fin­ish this sea­son out strong, and then have a de­cent year, hope­fully not as (many) in­juries next year.”

RESULTS: Dal­las 122 LA Lak­ers 111, Portland 126 Ok­la­homa City 121.

AP pic

Dal­las Mav­er­icks’ Dirk Now­itzki cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing his 30,000th ca­reer point in the sec­ond quar­ter against Los An­ge­les Lak­ers at the Amer­i­can Air­lines Cen­tre in Dal­las on Tues­day.

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