SALT LAKE CITY – There was a time, Dirk Nowitzki honestly admitted after Tuesday’s 95-83 win over the Utah Jazz, when the gap between his name and the NBA’s all-time Top 10 scorers would have been as wide as the Grand Canyon.
That’s how far Nowitzki was to being linked to some of the game’s all-time greats.
“You want to say that you knew from Day One what was going to happen, but that would be a lie,’’ Nowitzki said. “My first year was really tough – I’ve stated that numerous times.
“The lockout year (during Nowitzki's rookie season in 1998-'99), and I had a concave chest and guys were just pushing me around. I had to get stronger and keep working on my game.’’
For Nowitzki, the working part was the easy part. He stayed in the weight room, built up some muscle, gained more confidence, and the rest is history.
“I think what helped me me in my first year in the end (of the season) we were out of the playoffs and Nellie (coach Don Nelson) kind of threw me back in there and said, ‘Hey, just get better, work on your game,’ ‘’ Nowitzki said. “I think that was huge for my confidence, and then coming back for my second year I got a little lucky.
“For us it was unlucky, but Gary Trent got hurt and then I was really the only (power forward) we had on the roster and that meant I had to play like 40 minutes a night. That was a huge step for me confidence-wise and since then I’ve been just rolling, trying to get better year-to-year.’’
In 16 seasons Nowitzki has certainly gotten a lot better. Tuesday he scored 21 points and moved pass Oscar Robertson to become the No. 10 all-time leading scorer in NBA history with 26,714 career points.
-- Dwain Price
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