LeBron James looks back on Dirk Nowitzki’s legacy

NBA Analytics Network

Everyone knew things were going to be tough for the Los Angeles Lakers without Anthony Davis. Davis played at an MVP level this NBA season, helping the team return to the Western Conference playoffs alongside LeBron James. With Davis sidelined, James has taken his game to another level, but it hasn’t helped the team win.

The Lakers traveled on Christmas Day to face the Dallas Mavericks and lost their fourth consecutive game. An embarrassing third quarter, in which the Mavericks set an NBA Christmas Day record by scoring 51 points, they did in Los Angeles, where they only managed to score 21. 43 points in the first half.

Dallas went on to win 124-115 as the Lakers squandered another outstanding performance from James. He scored a game-high 38 points and went 13-of-23 despite not making any of his four 3-point attempts. James hit a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity streak, grabbing six rebounds with five assists.

Los Angeles was +2 in the 34 minutes James spent on the field, meaning they were outscored by 11 in the 14 minutes he did not play. Without Davis, that will go without saying since the Lakers don’t have the talent to keep up with most teams without James on the floor.

LATEST NBA NEWS: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Dirk Nowitzki & Dallas Mavericks Updates

After the game, James shared some insight on how the Mavericks took control of the game in the third quarter, crediting the adjustments made. Many of the shots they missed in the first half began to fall in that quarter, sparking an avalanche that Los Angeles was unable to stop.

However, the comment that people pay the most attention to is the comment he made about the statue of Dirk Nowitzki being unveiled before the game. Nowitzki was immortalized with a statue of his patented fadeaway, one-legged jersey, which James saw firsthand many times throughout his career.

“First of all before the [unveiling] of what the image will look like, I already knew what the image would look like. It had to be a fadeaway on one leg. It had to. No doubt about it. Dirk is a legend. He’s an icon. I think he is the greatest international player ever. He is there with Manu [Ginobili]. What he brought here, what he brought to town, that boy was cold, man.

“Dirk was cold. He revolutionized what a stretch four major looked like. Put the ball on the floor, finish above the rim, in its earlier years. He just mastered that in between games as his career turned a few years later. Then he started taking it to the three-point line. You couldn’t put a little one on him because he was too big. You couldn’t really raise him up slowly because he was too fast with his first step early on. You could never block his shot because he shot it behind his head, kind of like Larry Bird.

LATEST NBA NEWS: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Dirk Nowitzki & Dallas Mavericks Updates

“Dirk, you can talk about the best attackers and the best players of all time in that position. He was right there [Charles] Barkley, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Kevin McHale and those guys. They are tough. Dirk was having a hard time. If you can talk about someone with one name, you know he was tough. Dirk was tough, that’s for sure.”

Nowitzki spent his entire 20-season career with the Mavericks, which will no doubt end with a spot in the Naismith Hall of Fame. He was a 14-time All-Star, 12-time All-NBA Team member, the MVP of the 2006–07 season, and won the NBA Finals in 2011, taking home the NBA Finals MVP award.

LATEST NBA NEWS: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Dirk Nowitzki & Dallas Mavericks Updates

That NBA Finals victory came over James and the Miami Heat, as Nowitzki and the Mavericks defeated the Big 3 in six games. One of the best power forwards in NBA history, Nowitzki revolutionized the game for big men and international players, as you can still see shades of his patented moves mixed into the repertoire of players today .

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