Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Dirty Dirk

It's been a wild couple of days in the sports world with the Pete Carroll-Lane Kiffin switcheroo, the NFL playoffs looming, not to mention new revelations in the Gilbert Arenas and Tiger Woods stories ... what's that you haven't heard rumors that Tiger is currently in an Arizona rehab clinic for sex addiction and may also be donating a cargo plane and mobile hospital unit to the Haiti earthquake relief effort.

But lost in the shuffle was some history last night in the NBA (the above obscene picture aside). Dirk Nowitzki, better known as, well, Dirk Nowitzki (I wanted to call him the German Juggler but that just doesn't make much sense), eclipsed the 20,000-point mark with a third quarter jumper against the Lakers. I'll let Dime Magazine put his accomplishment into context:

There’s little argument that Dirk is the greatest Maverick of all-time as far as what he’s done with the franchise. He ranks No. 1 in career scoring, rebounding, field goals, threes, free throws, and is No. 2 in steals, blocks and points per game. He won the franchise’s only league MVP award, and guided Dallas to its first-ever NBA Finals appearance. The Mavs have made nine playoff appearances during Nowitzki’s carer, whereas in the previous 18-year period B.D. (Before Dirk), they made only six postseasons.

I never really thought of Dirk as a Hall of Famer before now, but looking at the statistics and just his overall impact on this generation, his jersey will probably hang in Springfield, Mass., one day. Tom Chambers and Mitch Richmond are the only 20,000 guys not currently playing that didn't get their names in the Hall. And frankly, there just aren't many 7-footers that can do the things Dirk can do and did throughout his 11-year career.

But what fascinated me about his accomplishment was something I heard on Sportscenter last night. Nowitzki is just the fourth non-American to get over the 20,000-point mark. The other three foreign born 20,000 guys are Hakeem Olajuwon (born in Nigeria), Patrick Ewing (born in Jamaica), and Dominique Wilkins (born in France). Maybe it's because of my skin color, but what stuck out to me was Nowitzki's status as the lone white guy on that list.

Call me curious, but I wanted to know if Nowitzki's status was a trend for all 20,000-point scorers. Is it one-fourth whites, three-fourths black dudes? I mean we all know African-Americans dominate the world of basketball these days, but maybe, just maybe, is this a way we can actually quantify that dominance. And don't call me racist, because we've all (white or black) been wanting to be able to determine this for eons Let's see...

Here's the complete list of 20,000 point guys (in order of how many points they have) as of today:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O'Neal, Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robertson, Dominique Wilkins, John Havlicek, Alex English, Reggie Miller, Jerry West, Patrick Ewing, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, Robert Parrish, Adrian Dantley, Elgin Baylor, Clyde Drexler, Gary Payton, Larry Bird, Kevin Garnett, Hal Greer, Walt Bellamy, Bob Petit, David Robinson, George Gervin, Mitch Richmond, Ray Allen, Tom Chambers, and Dirk Nowitzki.

So aside from the fact that I had to google Hal Greer to determine his skin color (yes, he's black and if you're interested, the only athlete in a Hall of Fame hailing from the great in bred state of West Virginia) and was shocked to see Gary Payton and Walt Bellamy on the list and George Mikan and Pete Maravich not on the list, that's 28 black dudes and six white dudes. That's 82.3 percent dominance. Glad that's settled.

And congratulations Dirk.

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