NBA / May 9, 2011 / 4:30 pm

Rick Carlisle: Dirk Is A Top 10 NBA Player Ever

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki (photo. Monte Isom)

Dirk Nowitzki has his lovers and haters. He’s a seven footer with some of the most incredible offensive gifts any player – regardless of size – has ever had and is one of just four players to have career averages in the postseason of over 25 points and 10 rebounds. But despite playing at an insane level for over a decade, Dirk has his doubters. He’s different, and because of that, some people will always give him a “soft” label. It may be impossible for Nowitzki to ever break through.

But, validation from your coach is sometimes the best compliment you can receive. Check out what Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said on “ESPN First Take” today:

“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.”

Carlisle later added:

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

How great of a player can Nowitzki become? At 32 years old, he still has time, especially since it doesn’t appear like his body is wearing down. What if he keeps this level of play up for another three years, then has two years after that where he slowly fades into one of the best role-playing, three-point shooters ever? If that happens, he would be approaching 30,000 career points with well over 10,000 career rebounds (which would throw him into the conversation with the 20-25 best rebounders ever). Could he eventually break the top 10 players in NBA history?

Do you agree with Rick Carlisle?

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    No, he isn’t, thats a pretty big claim to make. But he isnt too far out, maybe top 20 or 30.
    If his Mavs didn’t implode in 06 and 07 then things might be different, a couple of rings might have snuck him into the discussion of top 10 ever, but as it stands, he isnt.

  • Notorious

    Sorry, you dont crack the Top 10 without some jewelry on your fingers. I am with LMNOP on this one, maybe Top 25…

  • Clownfish

    In my opinion, and this is purely my own personal opinion, winning ring(s) is important to put you into the stratosphere of the top players ever. However, sometimes what you’ve accomplished over the course of your career is just as important. Karl Malone never won a ring … but Darko Milicic has.

    Unfortunately, in sports, everything is taken out of perspective and everyone has an opinion. Just stop and think for a moment about how YOU are judged in real life: based on your resume and overall accomplishments – not ONE particular win or loss.

    Dirk may not be top 20 or 30 right now – but by the end of his career I suspect you would be hard-pressed to argue against him – provided you aren’t one of those people who count rings and only rings.

  • Loso_atl30

    Valid argument. He is nasty, and he is skilled which helps your last longer in the league if you are skilled compared to athletic. Ex Steve Nash is skilled and he can still play at a high level. Guess Nash taught dirk something as he bounced to phx.

  • Scooter

    Thanks Rick for such an Insane comment. Like Notorious and others said, Need some rings. But Rings or Not, he’s Not top 10…Rick opinion is like his career, mediocre. Of our generation Kobe, Shaq, Jordan, Pippen, Moses malone, Olajuwon, Duncan, West, Bird, Magic, Russell, Walton, Jabbar, Wilt, Stockton, Elgin Baylor, Dr, J, The Big O…Rick was out of line and needs to be removed from the air,,,haha.

  • JAY

    EVER??? Anyone who agrees with that is retarded. He might be top 5-7 this MILLENIUM alone. Think about it this way… to say he’s top 10 all-time means 5-7 players over the last 11 years are in the 10 best players ever. GTFOH with that shit, Rick..

    Now, if Rick Carlisle said he’s a top 10 mismatches all time, I’d give him that. There have been guys who did their thing on both sides of the court. Dirk ain’t one.

  • Promoman

    Dirk’s definitely an all-time player but not quite in the top 10 all time. I’d agree with a top 20-25 claim though.

  • Nyeme

    I can’t even give him top 20-25 though. For a big you have to average 20 & 10 to be Top 25. He might get in that 45-55, definitely the 60s

  • http://kilikilishot.blogspot.com Filipino1

    Behind Larry Legend, I’d put Dirk in there as the top 2 non African-American player in the NBA ever.

    Kevin McHale, Mikan, Cousy…

  • Me

    top ten may be too high.

    But winning a ring should be, at most, a tiebreaker. Basketball isn’t a one man sport.

    That, and it’s easier for a great player to never win a ring now. Most of the legends that have rings played in an era when the NBA comprised of the world’s best 100-150 players, not 450 like we have now.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Top 25 – I’d say he’s a top 5 Power Forward already. Everyone that says you need a ring for this type of validation – Barkley and Malone as some best ever PFs? I guess not. KG only has one because he joined up with a few other superstars. Dirk did it on his own, never left his team.

    Top 25 when it’s all said and done, with potential to go higher.

  • Chaos

    top 10 PF, definitely…top ten player, hell now. really think about the guys thats in the top ten and u cant say that he is there (jordan, olajuwan, wilt, kareem, Malone, Shaq, Kobe, etc. ) he is not top ten but def top ten pf with TD, KG, Malone, Barkley, Nique,

  • derik

    if he can do what he does for 5 more years, yeah top 10 ever, but i think he only has about 3 years left

  • holger geschwinder

    not top 10. but id say right now he is one of the 40 greatest players of all time with the possibility of becoming top 25 before his career is over

  • JD

    too early to make such claim – but right now he can just stick with “the non-american top 10 NBA player ever”

  • johnsacrimoni

    Top 10 is pretty insane, think about it. Jordan, Magic, Bird, Wilt, Russell, Kareem, Shaq, Kobe, TD, Big O, West, Erving, Baylor, Hakeem, Moses, K Malone, Stockton, Barkley, Isiah, D. Robinson, Havlicek, Barry, Cousy. Not to mention LeBron and probably Wade will be right there in time. I can see top 25 maybe, top 10 is ridiculous. And I love Dirk, but just being realistic.

  • JJ

    If you use Simmons’ pantheon hall of fame as a guideline
    Nowitzki move into the 28 to 24 range. In no form or fashion is has his career been better than KG or Isiah. I think this is a flavor of the month thing going on. He’s built his reputation on being an unstoppable scorer. He’s never been someone that creates for others or plays dominate defense. There is something to be said about doing one thing really really well but as comparing his career to others his achievements aren’t that great. He’s never been the best player in the league. In his MVP year you could argue it was Kobe, Lebron, Nash, Duncan, and then maybe Dirk. Wade and Garnett could be placed ahead of him. First ballot HOF but top 10 not at all.

  • drew

    in the discussion for the top 25 definitely.

    one of the 6 best pf ever imo


  • ab40

    no. not a chance. he’s very consitent and he takes care of his body. plays an old man’s game

  • Ross

    Here are some following arguments for Dirk…

    1) Dirk has been the best player in playoff series involving Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan in play.

    Well Kobe is past his prime, you say… well he is the same age as Dirk. Well Karl Malone was past his prime, but Dirk was nowhere near his prime. In the KG series, Garnett was closer to his prime than Dirk was to his, Dirk was still the better player.

    The Duncan/Dirk matchups were interesting. The last two playoff matchups don’t count, and weren’t close, because Duncan was too far gone. There first matchup isn’t really comparable, Duncan was the best player in the game this side of Shaq, and Dirk wasn’t close to his prime. 03, Dirk got injured. So 06 was really the closest of their primes overlapping, really the only relevant matchup in terms of their primes, Duncan was slightly passed his prime, Dirk hadn’t quite reached his and Dirk won. It was close but Dirk was better.

    So… realistically… in playoff matchups… the primes never quite matchupped so it is hard to say… but Dirk was the best PF in all those series.

    You could also say that he is the only big man of his generation, or around his generation, who could close out a game. Shaq/Duncan couldn’t hit free throws. KG/Webber were afraid. Before them, Malone was pretty useless in these situation. Dirk is one of the best clutch players in NBA history.

    With all that said. I rank Dirk as the 3rd best player of his generation. Because I think it’s easier to build a team around Shaq and Duncan than it is to build a team around Dirk.

    Garnett? Silliness. He had to go to a team with two super clutch performers because he disappears down the stretch of games. Before that the only team of his that had success was Wolves team, lead, not by him, but Sam Cassell. He’s a great player, but he’s no good at being “the man” on a team.

    Kobe? Kobe was blessed with the best coach in the NBA and teams that were more talented, and well-built than everyone else. He’s certainly the most talented player of his generation… but… I would rather have Dirk. Dirk doesn’t quit on his team. How many times has Kobe? When was the last elimination game he played well? I would rather have a player that actually plays great in the clutch, and is willing to pass the ball to his teammates… and not someone who takes a hundred bad shots at the end of games… because he knows… that people will only remember the ones he makes. I prefer a player who doesn’t routinely throw his teammates under the bus, because he can’t take any responsibility himself. He won 5 championships, he’s been on the most talented team in the nba twice that amount.

    So is the top 3 of his generation… good enough to make the top 10? No… Jordan, Russell, Bird, Magic, Wilt, Robertson, Kareem, Hakeem, Shaq, and Duncan… I think that’s the clear ten. Unless you want to throw Shaq out because he would show up out of shape and clang free throws… but he was the best player in the league… for four years. He completed dominated 3 finals. He has to be in the top 10. Outside of them though… I don’t see anyone significantly more impressive than Dirk… and depending how long Dirk’s career lasts and what he does, he could sneak into the top 10.

    Wade, Lebron, Dwight, Rose, and Durant are interesting players… but we are still waiting on them.

    Also… to some of the silly posts… somebody said Dirk isn’t known for making his teammates better… that’s because people are idiots. The whole Mavs system is based on the fact that if you double team Dirk, he’s such a great passer, that it’s useless. Not only that, but he’s such a unique matchup, that the defense has to completely focus on him. It’s why people like Barea and Peja are able to do anything. Maybe try watching Dirk play, watch his passing when they double team, watch how open his teammates get because the defense sucks into him. The idea that he doesn’t make his teammates better and is just a scorer is ridiculous. Watch the game.

    Also this person mentioned Bill Simmons… Bill Simmons ranked Barkley and Malone at 19/18, he has been saying recently that Dirk will leap-frog them if he wins a championship this year. So top ten… is a bit too far, but Simmons seems open to the idea of ranking him higher than Isiah or KG.

  • http://ugliest.net Brian

    I read an article that said “Is Dirk Nowitzki really one of the top 25 of all time?” and the comments say “No way, he might be in the top 100, but not top 25″, and then I read an article that said “When Dirk retires, will he ever be included the list of the top 50 players of all time?” and the comments said “Maybe the top 100, but not the top 50 of all time”, and then they name off a bunch of players they’ve never even seen play that are supposedly better.

    Hmmmm, that seems to be the case with this article, as well.

    If this article said “Is Dirk top 3 ever?” everyone would be saying “Top 10 but not top 3.”

  • darko’s doughnuts

    DIRK IS DIRK!!! Ive been saying this for years…He may be the best player of all time other than Jordan

  • DNice

    He might crack the 10 best white dude in the NBA. Stockton, Pistol Pete, West, Bird, Cousy, Havlicek, McHale, Walton, Mikan, Nash

  • sh!tfaced

    ^^^ LOL. LIke 23 said. Top 10 NBA Player, no doubt.

  • Celts Fan

    Dirk is not top 10 ever. He NEVER will be. He’s a one-dimensional scorer, albeit a damn good one. He couldn’t defend Stephen Hawking and let’s not talk about the toughness and rebounding issues that plagued most of his career.

    and I’m so sick of the clutch argument. He’s had one chance to prove he’s truly clutch and missed 2 or 3 4th quarter FTs in the ’06 Finals. They spent the entire season gearing up to prove a point afterwards and got run out of the playoffs by the Warriors the very next year. Do something in June. All the regular season game winners in the world don’t mean crap if you wet yourself when the Playoffs start.

    and on the KG argument, yes, KG went to another team to finally get a ring. His squad also lost 4 outta 5 #1 picks due to the McHale/Joe Smith fiasco. Anyone that thinks Garnett isn’t better than Dirk historically is a fool. KG could do everything and do it well. Also, we’ve yet to see Dirk win a ring as a #1 too, so say what you will, and IT’S OBVIOUS that Dirk’s been surrounded by better teams the bulk of his career than pre-Celtics KG. In-his-prime KG could defend every position on the floor, shoot jumpers, lead the league in rebounding 4 straight years, and won an MVP and DPOY, and is in the top 40 all-time in 7 different statistical categories. Here’s the way I look at it, would you rather have Scottie Pippen or Reggie Miller? One could do it all but may have been better suited to be an EPIC #2, whereas the other was a #1 that could really only do one thing exceptionally well and wasn’t a good enough #1 to win a ring with, so really, what good is that?

    Just my opinion, been a fan of KG looooooooong before he came to Boston and been a Dirk hater for just as long, so take this for what you will…

  • Susej

    Top 10 all-time

    Big O

    The only player that could be bumped from that list is Duncan. Only Lebron could bump Duncan down to number 11. At BEST Nowitski is number 12 all-time.


    I think some people here are being a bit harsh on dirk.

    Theirs an elite, top tier group of players, guys like MJ, Magic, Russell.. probably 2 or 3 more, then there is a next group of probably about 10/20 players who you could argue any one is better than the other.
    Alot of people would agree Kobe is a top 10 player, but if you look at it, Kobe is slightly ahead statistically but Dirk has been a far better team player than Kobe over their careers and over the first decade of their careers was probably much more a factor in his teams success than Kobe was. Kobe at his peak was maybe a better individual talent, but Dirk at his Peak led a fairly weak team to 67 wins. Kobe has 5 rings, but Dirk never played with Shaq.

    and there is a whole bunch of other players who could be top 10 or 20 that you could make arguments that Dirk is better than. I wouldn’t put him in my own top ten but its defiantly not a ridiculous statement to make.

  • JAY

    “If this article said “Is Dirk top 3 ever?” everyone would be saying “Top 10 but not top 3.””

    Ummmm… no.

  • Desi

    You gotta be kidding me. It is okay to say that he is a first ballot HOF guy, that he is one of the all-time best at his position, but top 10 EVER? That’s just the moment talking. Dirk has been very good for quite a while, but excellent…no. I won’t use the rings as an argument because that is just foolishness (If rings truly mattered, then Russell is the GOAT, without argument. See how silly that sounds?). What this does bring up is excellent versus consistency. How do you compare serious greatness for a short time against pretty good for a long time? Does how short and how long make a difference? How many apples equals how many oranges? IMO, that is just too subjective an argument to ever be definitive. Let’s let him finish his career, and then see how he stacks up.

  • Pugz

    @Filipino1 umm buddy i think you’re forgetting Jerry West, John Stockton and Steve Nash. All better all-time players than Dirk. Anyone who argues against that is just living in the moment of these playoffs. This guy hasn’t done anything in his career but put up good numbers and lose in the playoffs every year, and he’s about to do the same this year.

  • http://www.gofukurselves.idiots.org Chicagorilla

    maybe Ricky Carlisle was talking about Dirk in NBA 2k11, if thats the case then he is correct, that s.o.b. Is a pain in the a$$ in 2K. You cant do shit with him. that rainbow jumper is unstoppable.

    As for real life? Ricky must be on that Roooozzzzzaaaayyyy!!! Because Dirk aint even close to being top 15. Hell maybe not top 20.

  • Celts Fan

    Let’s run down the list of just active guys better than Dirk historically (though not necessarily there now) in no order at all:

    Absolutely, no doubt about it, better than Dirk historically and this can’t change barring Dirk winning multiple rings:

    Right now yes, but probably not by the time he’s done (aka “My Homerism is showing”)
    Paul Pierce

    You could argue it, but I’d go w/ Dirk:
    Ray Allen
    Steve Nash (don’t let the MVPs fool you, Nash was amazing, but he was just above average til they changed the hand-check rules in 03. When he and Dirk were together, they were the same age and that was Dirk’s team. Then they split up and Nash won some hardware, but Dirk got to the Finals.)

  • Celts Fan

    and to dudes saying rings don’t count. they HAVE TO count for something. In a sport like ball where one guy can make all the difference, it’s not the only thing that matters, but you absolutely CAN NOT be in the top 10 ever if you don’t have a ring. 3 rings vs. 6 rings or whatever is pointless, but if you’re not a champion, you’re not top 10 and there’s no arguing otherwise or I’ll sick Herm Edwards on you to remind you of the point of participating in these contests.

  • Ross

    Also the rebounding thing is a really bad argument, completely taking things out of context.

    1) Most years of Dirk’s career has been one the top defensive rebounders in the NBA, it’s just the way the offense is set up pretty much excludes him from getting offensive rebounds. It’s far easier for a post up player to get an offensive rebound than a guy playing on the wing. This year his rebounding has gone down on account of playing with a bunch of great rebounders in Kidd, Marion, and Chandler.

    2) In the playoffs, when it matters, he averages 10.6 RPG. Averaging more defensive RPG than either Garnett or Shaq.

    You can’t seriously, with his career, say that he is a bad rebounder. It’s nonsense. You could say as a criticism of his offense, that it prevents him from getting offensive rebounds, but that’s about it. Also lulz to the person who thinks Pierce is better than Dirk.

    Also the person who describes himself as a Dirk hater and says that Dirk wets himself when the playoffs start. Dirk has had 3 bad playoff series in his career. One against the Rockets in 04-05, one against the Heat, and one against the Warriors. Any player in history has had a few bad playoff series. Do you want me to count how many Garnett has had? The number is far greater. Kobe has sucked in 3 out of 7 Finals. Dirk has generally been great in the playoffs. As noted by the fact that he was the best player in an 01 series involving Malone, an 02 series involving Garnett, an 06 series involving Duncan, an 09 series involving Carmello Anthony, and an 2011 series involving Kobe. True he lost against Mello’s Nuggets, but I don’t see how that’s his fault when he was averaging over 30 PPG in the losses and double digit rebounds… more had to do with Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, and Josh Howard being useless — the next best Maverick was probably Dampier.

  • Nyeme

    Even IF Dirk got a ring, I still wouldn’t put him ahead of Mailman, Stockton, Kidd, GP, Barkley, Ewing. 2-way player, 2-way player, 2-way player, 2-way player, 1.5-way player, 2-way player. Thats 6 right there.

    Celts Fan – if you can make the argument for anyone being Top 10 Ever and doesn’t have a ring, then it would go to Mailman

  • sh!tfaced

    Sooo if Robert Horry was white, would he have an argument…?

  • Ross

    I will add that Dirk hasn’t had good teammates post Nash/Finley years, with the exception of maybe this year… but this year there isn’t anyone on the team even close to being an all-star. The second best player is Tyson Chandler…

    I will say that KG and Duncan would have been much better for those Nash/Finley teams. Because they didn’t need a guy to score and close out games, they needed a defensive presence in the paint… but post Nash years KG and Duncan couldn’t have raised that pathetic team to a championship… it was amazing that Dirk was able to take them to the finals. With the exception of the 03 Spurs, who made it to the finals because Dirk and Webber injuries, there hasn’t been another team to come out of the west in the last decade without a secondary all-star. Jason Terry was their second best player! Jason Terry! Their best center was Diop! That team was horrible.

    Also about Dirk missing free throws against the Heat… didn’t he make an uber clutch fall-away shot in the finals seconds of game 5 over Shaq? Which would have won the game if Wade didn’t get a phantom foul call on the next play? Nobody remembers that shot, because the Heat won the game, but it happened. So at the very least, the Finals were a mixed bag. It wasn’t exactly Kobe against the Pistons bad.

  • Ian

    it doesnt count when its superstar malone vs scrub darko but lets say you are comparing ewing to hakeem or the admiral rings have to count that is one of the few things that separates them.

    dirk is top 25 imo since i have pippen in my top 30 why not dirk. with rings hes top 20 i dont think he can crack my top 10.

  • Ian

    i like that third best player this generation after td and shaq. better than kg imo. btw ross simmons is an idiot i read his book and he had walton and kg over the admiral in the top 50.

  • Ian

    celts fan
    i think reggie isnt the best comparison you need to player more or less on the same level lets say pippen or tmac (great offense not so much on the other end imo). oh and if you are gonna have them as the 1 on the team you have to take reggie you said it yourself one pip is a clear num 2. just in case pip is the better player.

  • Celts Fan

    Dirk is not better than KG. This is not a discussion. EVER. If you say otherwise, you don’t understand the ALL-AROUND game of basketball and what it takes to actually win games.

    @nyeme – you could say that, but even still, he’s not top 10 to me. that guy shrunk from the big moment worse than anyone I’ve ever seen (of his caliber.) That and his lack of rings (almost definitely related) keeps him just outside my top 10.

  • Celts Fan

    @Ian – that was my EXACT point. Just cuz a guy’s a #1 on his team doesn’t mean he should be a #1. I’d rather have a guy who knows he’s a #2 (obviously has to be a damn good one) and can help you win rings than a #1 who’s not good enough to be the #1 on a title team. That’s why I made the Pippen/Reggie comparison.

  • Ian

    now i read this bs ” With the exception of the 03 Spurs, who made it to the finals because Dirk and Webber injuries”
    pleaseeee sir in 03 duncan was the best player in the world you need to relax a bit. webber really??? didnt the mavs beat the kings?? not the spurs. the spurs beat the threepeat lakers with only one star you think dirk and fools was gonna stop them in the conf finals hell the i could say the only reason dallas got there was because of webbers injury. didnt 6th seed old td beat dirk again last year?? yeah right he was winning in 03. dirk is now better than duncan but he wasnt in 06 and dif wasnt in 03.

  • Ian

    the thing is that i know kg needs someone to be his 1 we all know that since he won it with pierce in 08 but dirk can be a number 1 at least i think so because of his finals apperance. that has to count for something remember barkley made only one finals and he was for sure a number 1.

    in fact lets wait it out if he wins this year ill go with dirk for sure.


    100% FALSE!!!

  • Celts Fan

    @Ian – Had KG been surrounded w/ the talent he was the one year he had Spree and Cassell in Minnesota, he coulda been a #1 too, doesn’t mean he’s better suited to be one. If KG’s team had been run by a competant GM who hadn’t lost 4 #1s in his prime or had just kept that Spree/Sam squad around him, or if they’d just kept Ray and not swapped him for Marbury, he’d have probably won one or 2 there. What’s your point? I don’t care what happens, Dirk cannot pass KG. KG’s too good all-around and Dirk is too one-dimensional. Sorry, nothing can change that to me. Oh, and Dirk will blow it anyway, so it won’t matter. That guy will never win a ring.

  • DNice

    Top 10 in NBA History, NO. Top 10 international player Yes. That’s about it.

  • K Dizzle

    @ Ian – what Celts Fan said lol

  • http://riisk.co.cc Louis

    Dirk in my opinion deserves to be in the top 10. This guy is one of the most consistent players I have witnessed in my lifetime. He nails shot after shot, with his unstoppable fadeaway which is the hardest shot ever to be defended. Dirk has created a generation of basketball that will forever be remembered and Rick Carlisle is right. If you think about it Dirk has done everything for Dallas himself, even with Nash, Kidd, and Nick on their team. He has been the consistent one and shown everyone he is a scorer, a defender and a leader.

  • jon

    His defense is not as bad as a lot of people make it out to be. Definately not a “good” defender, but easily an average-slightly below average on ball defender with above average help defense. He is a clutch player, yeah he missed that free throw against the Heat, but I remeber quite a few clutch shots as well. I mean if you want to completely ignore a players entire body of work and trash him for a small amount of poor playoff performances I could easily make the case that Kobe doesn’t belong in the top 50.

  • Ross

    “now i read this bs ” With the exception of the 03 Spurs, who made it to the finals because Dirk and Webber injuries”
    pleaseeee sir in 03 duncan was the best player in the world you need to relax a bit. webber really??? didnt the mavs beat the kings?? not the spurs. the spurs beat the threepeat lakers with only one star you think dirk and fools was gonna stop them in the conf finals hell the i could say the only reason dallas got there was because of webbers injury. didnt 6th seed old td beat dirk again last year?? yeah right he was winning in 03. dirk is now better than duncan but he wasnt in 06 and dif wasnt in 03.”

    He wasn’t in 06? Remind who took over in overtime of game 7 and who vanished? Exactly. Duncan had a great series, but he was bested by Dirk at the end of Game 7. That was the difference. Also don’t take so much offense. I already said I would rather have Duncan than Dirk in their respective primes… because Dirk is a freak and Duncan is an ideal prototype PF/C.

    Tony Parker ability to destroy Jason Kidd and the Spurs superior chemistry beat the Mavs in 2010 — the Mavs just made a big trade mid-season, those teams always flame out. Do you want to go game by game comparison of Dirk and Duncan that series? It’s not fair to Duncan, he is passed his prime.

    As for 03, you would be absolutely right to say the only reason the Mavs got to the Western Finals was because of Webber’s injury. I’m not using this one way for Dirk’s benefit. The simple fact is the Mavs took seven games to beat the Kings without their best player Webber, which was incredibly lucky for the Mavs. The Spurs, in turn, needed a miracle from Steve Kerr not to go 7 games against the Mavs team who happened to have their best player get hurt. It was doubly lucky for the Spurs, first they got to play the no D Mavs over the Kings, then the Mavs best player got injured. Duncan was absolutely the best player in the NBA that year. But his teammates were incredibly poor, the fact that he won a championship even under those conditions is a testimony to Duncan’s brilliance. . KG wouldn’t have got out of the first round or more appropriately he didn’t.

    AS for the Lakers that year? Shaq was out of shape, and the Lakers lacked a supporting cast. Still , no player could have beat them by himself other than Duncan that year… but let us not pretend that team was better than the Kings and Mavs. Now maybe the Spurs would have beat the Kings that year without injuries… but we don’t know. Just like we don’t know how many championships the Spurs might have won if they didn’t have so many injuries to Ginobili, Parker and Duncan.

    Once again, saying nothing against Duncan, best player of the generation. I’m just saying it’s very rare for a player with a shitty supporting cast to make the Finals out west. Duncan and Dirk have done this, that’s it. Kobe and Garnett have always been bounced from the first round when they had shitty teammates.