Dirk Nowitzki is one of the greatest NBA players of all time.
As a one-time champion, one-time NBA Finals MVP, one-time league MVP and 14-time NBA All-Star – his legacy is beyond reproach.
Because he was so decorated and so successful, he can provide a unique window into the game of basketball that few others can.
And he can also be counted on to be a fair decider of who from his era was truly as ferocious as history remembers them.
During an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Nowitzki opened up about the toughest player he ever faced off against.
“To my mind, always comes Tim Duncan on my position,” he said.
“Before he slid over to center, he was really a power forward. He was the best power forward ever. He was so skilled… He’s a great rebounder, great defender, was really low key and I don’t think he gets talked about enough because he’s such a low-key guy and never loved the limelight.
“But between those lines, he was so tough, he was so good and there was no way you could stop him on the blocks… We had some great battles with San Antonio over the years. We had a little rivalry going there for a lot of years. And just to compete against him and see his greatness up close in the playoffs almost every year made me obviously appreciate him so much.”
It’s understandable why Nowitzki would hold Duncan in such high regard. The pair faced off on 90 separate occasions. In those match-ups, Duncan emerged victorious nearly 60 percent of the time. That’s significant.
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In recent years, Nowitzki has become much more introspective. He has talked about almost becoming a Los Angeles Laker and he has gotten very honest about his relationship with Kobe Bryant. Very meaningful and deep stuff, all the way around.
Hopefully the trend continues. Nowitzki is arguably the greatest European player of all time, and the insights he can offer into the game of basketball are a treat for everyone who hears them.
Charles Kruger has been credentialed to cover two Super Bowls, four NBA Finals, and one World Series. A 20-year veteran in the sports world, he has sources spanning the NBA, MLB, NFL, UFC and NASCAR. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Calif., he is Game 7’s go-to source for rumors surrounding the Lakers, Clippers and Dodgers.