Monday, May 9th, 2011 at 4:54 pm  |  81 responses

Rick Carlisle Believes Dirk Nowitzki is in All-Time Top 10

by Sam Riches / @sam_riches

Heading into the postseason, many around the League regarded the Dallas Mavericks as too soft and lacking the killer instinct to be considered serious contenders. As the face of the franchise, Dirk Nowitzki felt otherwise and after his play in the first two rounds of the Playoffs, many of his skeptics are being forced to reevaluate their position.

On the heels of sending the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers back to Hollywood after a surprising sweep, Pau Gasol said Dirk is playing the basketball of his career.

And now Dallas head coack, Rick Carlisle, is calling him one of the top ten players in League history.

From ESPN Dallas:

In my opinion, he’s a top 10 player in NBA history because of the uniqueness of his game and how he’s carried this franchise on his back for over a decade,’ Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told “ESPN First Take” on Monday. ‘He’s just right. He’s leading the team. His shot-making is great. He’s passing the ball great. He’s one of the guys that’s directing traffic for us defensively.’

One could make a strong case that Nowitzki has been the NBA’s MVP of the first two rounds of the playoffs. The 7-footer has averaged 26.5 points and has consistently come through as a closer, putting up double figures in the fourth quarter of half the Mavs’ wins this postseason.

He also twice hit go-ahead shots in the final two minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers, whom the Mavericks swept out of the playoffs with a 122-86 victory in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday.

‘When he’s on the floor, we feel like we can beat anybody,’ Carlisle said. ‘He’s that good.’

Nowitzki is one of four players in NBA history with career postseason averages of at least 25 points and 10 rebounds.”

With a NBA Championship trophy-sized hole still sitting in his awards closest, Nowitizki has one more step to take to cement his place among the greatest of all time.

As the Mavericks aim to get back to the Finals for the first time since their loss to the Miami Heat in 2006, Dirk now has a legitimate chance at redemption and the opportunity to hoist the first championship in franchise history.

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  • Kid Dynamite

    C’mon now…….needs a few championships first to make it in there

  • price

    Sure. Top 10 non american players in league history.

  • max

    lol at all the commenters that will probably post their own top 10 lists that no one gives a sh!t about…

  • robb

    nope. But he’s playing awesome. Best foreign player ever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    #1 European NBA player of all-time.

  • flipnoyce

    Maybe a player that you have coach passed and present or since Mavs became a franchise type of top 10, but not according to SLAM 500! Dirk is good but he doesn’t have an all around game to even break that top ten list.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Royal

    @Max: LOL I was really about to post mine but then I realized that no-one cares

  • SikhWitIt

    You can’t be top 10 if you don’t play defense. Sorry.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Top Ten “Power forwards” of all time right??? I mean, Dirk is one of my favourite players in the League of my generation – but ALL TIME rankings can’t have him within the top 10 without the hardware. There are too many all time players that have won for him to make it – Perhaps top 20. Surely top 25.
    I’m thinking by the time I’ve had lunch we would have seen Allenp or Jukai put together one of our trustworthy lists.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Co-sign BlackPhantom.

  • http://slamonline.com The Ambassador

    Rick…Kobe is top ten of all time buddie.


    Yeah I heard this sometime last week. But no, he is not top 10

  • JTaylor21

    Rick’s doing peyote.

  • Enrique

    How about being more than a one-dimensional player. Blowing smoke up Dirk’s butt is what RC is doing.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Where exactly has Dirk been carrying Dallas?
    And I suppose we’re ignoring the Nash and Finley years now RC?
    The Diggler is balling and winning. That is more than enough.

  • http://www.google.com/news BETCATS

    hahahahaha ummmm no. He is maybe top 50, in the form he is currently in no doubt, but top 10 with no rings? HA.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    I’ll give Dirk Top 20, probably. I mean he’s like, the greatest shooting big man of all-time. It’s between him or Larry Legend, but can you consider Bird a big man? He played the 3 all of his career. I guess you can since he’s 6’9″, but so was Magic so….idk

  • http://slamonline.com BigBlockMopar+Basketball

    We all believe Rick Carlisle is completely insane.

  • Fat Lever

    Top 10 in almost marrying completely batsh!t crazy jawns, yes.

  • Drew

    Has Rick Carlisle seen the NBA All-Time Top 10? Each of those players has MULTIPLE championships. Without the hardware you’re just outside looking in. Right now I wouldn’t put him in TOP 50.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    C’mon Drew, there are some players in the Top 50 without a ring.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Bird actually played the four just as much as he played the three. He even kept mchale on the geng initially while he played the four.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Geng = bench

  • izzo

    He’s not even the best PF of his generation to play all of his career in Texas.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Phantom nobody in my top ten is ringless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Thanks for the info, Allenp. Larry retired before I was born so I wasn’t too sure. No one in my top ten is ringless either.

  • http://eyelovejerseys.blogspot.com bob

    As much as I love Dirk (no homo), he’s not top 10 of all time. He’s the best non american to play in L, that’s for sure. But to me he’s a top 35/40 player of all time. Top 10 player since 2000, though.

  • jarrett

    not even close. Great Player though. IMO he not better than Karl Malone

  • S_kemp

    awesome player.However, not even one of the top ten centers ever.I’d love him to beat the Heat in the finals, getting his revenge on Miami and stopping Lebron from getting his first ring, that’d be sweet.

  • BostonBaller

    There are at least 20 HOFers from The Lakers & Celtics alone that would beg to differ. lol

  • Coney Islander

    Lay off that. C’mon son.

  • http://Www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Come on Coach Carrey, leave the comedy and insanity to your canadian twin.
    No need for this rubbish statement.
    I am the biggest Dirk fan i know of but top 10 Nba player in history; nope.
    Top 10 playoff performer, 4th quarter scorer, high percentage shooter, power forward, you had more realistic zitles to chose from, Rick.

  • http://www.pablasso.com pablasso

    @S_kemp: maybe because he’s not a center

  • Cecil

    Dirk is the most misunderstood player of all time… anyone that doesn’t think Dirk is one of the top 10 players ever doesn’t understand the game.. and doesn’t understand WHY Dirk’s makes the players around him so great year after year even without optimal teams.

    This is why he is so undervalued.

    Shaq was a complete defensive liability and couldn’t hit his freethrows.. yet he is arguably the most impactful player ever.

    Dirk has just as much if not more of an impact.. Carlisle knows because he is using it to dominate using a bunch of castoff players all around him. If Avery Johnson hadn’t been such an awful coach for the prime years of Dirk’s career this wouldn’t be in question the way it is now. If the league wasn’t based on highlights and the media wasn’t so stupid people would have realized how great dirk was long ago. Really Dirk should be more impactful than Shaq because Dirk does it with skill rather than brute force. BBall is supposed to be about skill..

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    He isn’t in the Top 10, because he’s choked in the past.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    …and that choking has cost him a ring

  • http://slamonline.com biged

    not to say you are wrong Cecil but your comment still doesnt add up to him being top ten. He is not the top ten best skilled players. Yes he has a jumpshot. but No dominating defense and no dominating post game, no physical play, no legendary moments, no signature moves. what makes him so hard to guard is the fact that he is seven foot and shoots we the ball behind his head so its impossible to block him. thats why he is so good. if he was six inches shorter……

  • Vince5

    Even if he had win a NBA Championship in ’06 he wouldn’t be top 10. Top 30, sure, but nowhere close from the top 10.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Now Avery can’t coach and that is why Dirk didn’t win.
    Man I liked it better when Darksaber was the only Dirk and Mavs fan on here. At least he kept it 100.

  • http://Zogs.com Zogs

    Maybe top ten questionable NBA mvp s
    or perhaps top ten soft pf or maybe even top ten greatest players who were to Garbo to lead their team to a ring, but definatly not top ten all time!!!!!!!

  • dirkalicious

    if someone like dirk can be considered top 10 then brian scal should be considered top 50

  • Tyrant56

    Well he aint won much yet so we can hold off on that noise and I personally think its a tie between him n manu for best international player ever.

  • http://slamonline.com tealish

    Love Dirk. Underrated. Underappreciated. Great, great player.
    But this is crazy talk.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Dirk is top 50 without a doubt–top 10 is a stretch. Top 10 Power-forwards for sure.

  • MikeC.

    @Zogs – You’re calling Dirk soft? C’mon man. Dude has 41 games for his entire career. Some dudes miss that every over a couple seasons and nobody questions their toughness. Dirk has played, and played well, on some pretty bad ankle sprains. He took an elbow to the face, spit his teeth out, hit the free throws, then got stitched up. Dude is not soft. He’s probably the most efficient scorer still playing.
    @biged – No signature move? The stepback rainbow off the wrong foot is pretty signature since nobody else can do it. Dirk does have a post game. Just because he doesn’t finish with dunks doesn’t mean he has no post game. He’s the absolute master of the mid and high post game. The Mavs’ pick and roll that forces the switch that lets Dirk shoot over point guards is one of the most unstoppable plays in the NBA.
    What Dirk has needed all this time is a high-energy Center to lead the defensive effort. To me, the Mavs are the most impressive and well-rounded team in the playoffs this year.
    All that being said, I disagree with Dirk being top-10 all time. If the Mavs win a ring this year, and he dominates the WCF and the Finals, then he can get into the conversation.
    I also disagree with Dirk being the greatest foreign-born player in NBA history. Hakeem Olajuwon might have something to say about that.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ biged: “if he was six inches shorter…” is a terrible argument. If ALL Hall of Fame big men were six inches shorter would they even be All-Stars? Would Shaq and Patrick Ewing and Tim Duncan even be in the league if they were six inches shorter? Makes no sense. Being tall is an advantage, not a disadvantage, and as such it shouldn’t be held against someone. That’s like saying “If Allen Iverson wasn’t fast…” or “If Reggie Miller couldn’t shoot…”

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Man I always forget about the Dream. Tim Duncan was born in the Virgin Islands too.

  • Ken

    Who are the other 3 players with 25/10 averages? I’m guessing Wilt. Hakeem?

  • http://dsjkflf.com Jukai

    I love lists. Me and my brother were debating whether Dirk had now moved up to a top-5 all-time power forward.
    If we have to debate THAT fact, then Dirk isn’t top ten.

  • http://nba.com EJ

    Some people don’t even put Kobe on the top 10, so no way Dirk should even be on the discussion.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    But I agree that he isn’t top 10. That’s no knock on Dirk’s game though. At all.

  • Kas

    One season of greatness doesn’t wipe out 10 years of failure. Just like one season of sucking (Pau Gasol) doesn’t wipe out 2 rings

  • http://slamonline.com tealish

    ^10 years of failure? Really? Come again?

  • Max

    Kas, 10 years of failure? if rings are the only thing you measure failure/success on, then sure… 10 years of failure. Just like Barkley and Stockton had a failure of a career. And Lebron was a complete failure up to this point.

    And if you dont measure success/failure on basis of rings, gtfoh and start watching basketball.

  • http://www.twitter.com/JoshElam JE

    I do too.

  • OvaChicken

    Dirk would make if he was a better defender. But he aint. His coach is just trying to boost his fragile little ego.

  • al

    toni kukuc will knock you out dirk

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Jukai – I want that list! ^_^

  • http://dsjkflf.com Jukai

    Dacre: The (imho obvious) top four are Duncan, Malone, Garnett and Barkley, with the latter two being the only one you can sort of debate. The five spot is very difficult. I still think McHale deserves that spot, my brother is name dropping Elvin Hayes even though he probably knows nothing about the guy. We also tossed around the idea of Bob Pettit. The main debate was, what, if anything, does Dirk need to do to take that fifth spot from those three guys.
    BTW: Bob McAdoo would round up my top 10.

  • matti

    this whole discussion is just stupid, top 10 – top 20 … who cares, enjoy his game while he ‘s still playin

  • Ryan

    “No signature move? The stepback rainbow off the wrong foot is pretty signature since nobody else can do it.”

    You can’t be top ten all time, or even top fifty when your signature move is taking a bad shot. Dirk Nowitski is so, so overrated. With his size and his ability to shoot, he SHOULD be top ten all time but he doesn’t play defense well enough, he doesn’t post up at all and he’s the opposite of a winner.

    As for lists you’ve got to put Kevin Garnett ahead of him as well as the four guys Jukai just mentioned. Rasheed Wallace routinely beat Dirk down and took his lunch money. He’s a bad match up for Pau Gasol but I’d take him over Dirk without a seconds hesitation.

    Rick Carlisle needs to leave that crack alone or at least stop reading old issues of Slam where Lang Whitaker tries to make a legend out of a chump.

  • http://Www.fiba.com Darksaber

    MikeC with a resounding summary of Dirk Werner Nowitzki.
    Co-Sign like a mother…
    Ps: the people who label Dirk ‘soft’, stick to your FlightBros and Mixtape tours. True Basketball connaiseurs know blondy’s body of work.

  • ogog

    everyone is saing he is the best non american…………OLAJUWAN!!!!

  • MikeC.

    ^Dirk’s FG% for the season was 51.7%. Sounds like his signature move gets him some high-percentage looks.
    Sure, maybe Rasheed could take Dirk down low, but when did that happen? One of the six times Rasheed actually got his arse down to the low blocks in his entire career?
    You’d take Gasol over Dirk to start a franchise? That’s just crazy talk. That worked out really well for Memphis didn’t it?
    Don’t throw that “he doesn’t play defense” card into play either. There are dozens of elite players that weren’t particularly good individual defenders, but bought into the team concept and played good team D. Kinda like Dirk and the Mavs this year. A great rim-protector like Chandler covers up for a lot of other players’ weaknesses and lets them be more aggressive on D. Dirk is a mediocre defender, but he doesn’t seem to be hurting the Mavs as very few players just straight up go after him as a defensive liability.

  • ogog

    he is f*cking sick though..

  • http://Www.fiba.com Darksaber

    My bad, commenters here calling him soft, overrated and other demeaning words must be Hell-A Laker fans. I understand though.
    It seems that sweep hurt more than Artests knee to Lamar’s nuts.
    Die-Nasty indeed. (word to Maurice Bobb for the term of the week)

  • DJR

    Dirk & Manu best international players??? Do people forget Olajuwon? Nash? (I don’t like him, but the L did and he has been better than Manu), oh and yeah Tim Duncan?? A lot of people have also forgotten how good Drazen Petrovic was as well because he was killed early in his career. Dirk is definitely Top 5 International All-Time – definitely not Top 10.

  • http://360special.blogspot.com/ dev0

    still can’t make me like him
    Top 10 All-Time: I don’t know who you can rank him above
    1 Jordan
    2 Chamberlain
    3 Bill Russell
    4 Kareem
    5 Shaq
    6 Magic
    7 Kobe
    8 Oscar Robertson
    9 TimDuncan
    10 Bird

    never mind Hakeem, Dr J and a handful of others
    even Garnett, Dirk is a better debate for career impact

  • logues

    top 10 shooter of all time yes, but he needs atleast 2 or 3 chips to even be considered top 10

  • http://www.twitter.com/dfrance21 Dfrance21

    I don’t know how anyone that has not ACTUALLY SEEN every last NBA player play in their prime can make a top 10 list. Everyone is just going to stick MJ at the top because they’ve seen him dominate, throw Wilt second because he scored 100 points in a game, stick Russell somewhere on the list because he has 11 rings, what? Oscar Robertson averaged a triple double? He gets a spot too. If you haven’t seen the actual game to game impact these guys have had on the game then your list means absolutely nothing.

  • Steve

    Carlisle played 4 years with Bird, and then in the division against him for a few years. Hard to argue with him when he’s basically saying Dirk’s on same level or better. Anyone want to debate Basketball Jesus’ place in the top 10? Statistically, Dirk is better.

  • Bambe

    I am a huge Mavs fan, but when you look at the names of Nba history, top 10 is too much..

  • Cecil

    It’s not just that Avery Johnson was a bad coach.. he was the completely wrong coach to coach Dirk. Here you have one of the most versatile unique players to ever play the game and Avery is trying to use him like Tim Duncan.. and no one said JACK about it was happening… this discredits ALL the experts.

    what makes Dirk great is’t even his jumpshot.. it’s his ability to take defenders off the dribble – 7 footers. People don’t realize this because teams always put smalls on Dirk.. which makes him a dominant post player.. yet Dirk gets called for offensive fouls on these little guys and Shaq DIDN’T.. Just another example of how Dirk got the shaft..

    all truth goes through three phases.. 1st it is ridiculed.. 2nd it is violently opposed 3rd it is accepted as self evident. That is Dirk’s career and perception in this league.

    Dirk is a lot like Shaq in that to show his greatness you need the right pieces around him.. But because Dirk was so undervalued and misunderstood he couldn’t get the kind of talent Shaq could. AND Cuban had the worst philosophy ever building around him. Dirk had the worst bigmen in history around him.. while Kobe had the best. Kobe had Shaq and Robert Horry… think about that…

    Anyone that doesn’t realize Dirk could have a better career than Kobe with Shaq, Phil and a player as complementary ad Horry they are brain dead IMO.

  • Cecil

    One thing I don’t think people realize.. Shaq, Duncan and Olajuwan all have rings because they played with a poor man’s Dirk in Robert Horry… think about that… and Horry has more rings than Jordan.. imagine if Dirk didn’t play with the worst bigmen in NBA history…

    The reason Olajuwan is considered so great is because he played with Horry the poor man’s Dirk to spread the floor.

    Horry was a poor man’s Dirk because he was a power forward that could spread the floor with his 3 point shooting. Which allows post players like Olajuwan to look much much better than they are..

  • Cecil

    Robert Horry played with great post players and has more championships than Jordan.

    Dirk played with the worst frontcourt players in NBA history and has no championships. Imagine if Dirk played with a big as good as Horry did.. Horry also shows how great Dirk’s impact is as well because Horry isn’t even in dirk’s league.

    Kobe played with both Phil, Shaq, Horry, Odom, Pau and Bynum and Karl Malone and only has 5 rings.. less than Horry…

  • Cecil

    What if Shaw never played with Kobe and Wade and was never coached by Phil Jackson or Pat Riley………

    THAT is Dirk…………….

    Dirk has NEVER had players around him that compliment his abilities like Shaq has..

  • W.Mack

    Cecil, c’mon now. Dirk’s never had help? How about this. The reason he hasn’t had any dominant big men is because HE’S supposed to be the dominant big man. He’s 7’1″ for crying out loud. My biggest knock with Dirk has always been that as talented as he is, he’d let a 6’6″ guy check him on defense. No way that should ever happen. And he’s had some kind of help. Steve Nash is a 2 time MVP winner. Mike Finley was no chopped liver. And that same Jason Terry that just mirked LA Sunday didn’t JUST get there. He’s BEEN there. No excuses for Dirk. I like the guy as a player, but I’m trying not to be a prisoner of the moment. Dirk’s skill set and abilities are indeed rare. But Top 10 player all time?!? C’mon Son!

  • Cecil

    Why is Dirk supposed to be the dominant bigman? When he was drafted he was a small forward… just because Dirk is 7 feet doesn’t mean he should play a certain way. Kobe begged for and got the best frontcourt in the league in Odom, Pau and Bynum and it STILL wasn’t enough… even with Phil Jackson.

    Dirk didn’t need Shaq.. he just needed someone decent.. and never had them. He really never had a decent small forward either. Terry is a scorer like Dirk too.. he is terrible as a spot up shooter.. it was him bricking 3s that lost them the finals when Dirk was doubled and tripled in the Finals. Avery using Dikr so horribly also contributed..

    The other thing is that the refs treat Dirk like a second class citizen. Look how Wade was officiated in the Finals compared to Dirk.. Dirk gets officiated like a rookie even after leading a team to the Finals with no second star. Also.. Cuban let Nash walk just as Dirk was entering his prime.. we don’t even know how great they could have been together.

    Nash did not complement Dirk.. they were too much alike.. Finley was HOD AWFUL. The huge contract he got set the Mavs back a decade. Stern implemented a rule allowing teams to dump albatross contracts,.. should have called it the Finley rule.. he was one of the only big contracts dumped with it.

    Cuban never wanted to go through the draft so he just traded for other garbage players over and over and over. The Mavs were always built for the regular season and that is it. Dirk never even had true shooters around him.. he just had inefficient scorers that didn’t complement him at all. Dirk also played in the west without a second star in THE toughest era and conference in NBA history. could you imagine if he was in the East?

    People also don’t understand Dirk makes all the guys around him look so great just like Shaq did.. I remembr Dirk led the Mavs to the WCF and teams were so concerned with him Nick Van Exel had a monster series against the Kings.. people said Nick Van Exel was the MVP not Dirk. Then the Mavs traded Van Exel and he was garbage wherever he went. This happens over and over. People don’t get that Dirk takes guys best perimeter defender like a Kobe AND because it’s not a power forward defending him all dirk’s teammates thrive because of this.. guys like Finley and Van Exel have bigs on them or a wide open paint allowing them to look like stars. If Dirk had a true star playing with him they should look like the league MVP playing with Dirk. Same with centers and bigs just like Horry made Shaq, Olajuwan and Duncan so dominant.. Dirk always needed a big that complemented him like he Shaq Olajuwan and Dubcan complemented him.

    People don’t understand how important chemistry is between players and coaches to win championships.. and how much officiating is part of it all. If Dirk isn’t a top ten player then Shaq shouldn’t be either… and sure as hell not Kobe..

  • Not Cecil

    So how did Tim win a ring in 2003 playing against Horry if it was Horry that made Tim such a dominant player???

  • frank costanza

    duncan is a center. they started listing him as a forward on the all-star ballot so billions of chinese wouldn’t keep him from starting in all-star games

    dirk is a top 30 or so player all-time

  • frank costanza

    also, cecil makes some decent points…for someone who is clearly insane