I was there in February 1999 in Seattle for rookie Dirk Nowitzki's first points as a Dallas Maverick. Still can't believe I was at American Airlines Center last night for his 20,000th.
Shortly after then-general manager Don Nelson acquired Dirk in a draft-day trade for Robert "Tractor" Traylor in '98, the German 19-year-old showed up at the team's old practice facility at the Baylor-Tom Landry center. He was lanky, he had gold hoop earrings, a bowl haircut and no clue.
"Go ahead Dirk," Donnie Nelson instructed in front of an assembled media, "give them the works."
Nowitzki rainbowed jumpers and dunked with both hands, but I came away generally non-plussed.
I would've bet a lot of cash that the kid never made it 2,000 points in the NBA, much less 20,000.
Last night in a 100-95 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Dirk became just the 34th player to score 20,000 points. His baseline jumper early in the fourth was part of 15 points in the quarter, and his 3-pointer tied the game at 95 with 42 seconds left before Kobe Bryant scored the go-ahead jumper over Josh Howard.
My two favorite Dirk points remaining the driving dunk in the mug of Manu Ginobli late in the fourth quarter of Game 7 in the 2006 playoffs.
I'd like to get more into Dirk and get all misty-eyed retrospective on his career but, alas, it's still football season.