You know me, the biggest Dirk Nowitzki homer in town. But Rick Carlisle even made me cringe earlier this week by tabbing the Mavs' star as a top 10 NBA player "of all time."
Carlisle has been great in these NBA Playoffs. Keeping his Mavericks mentally together after the Game 4 Portland Pratfall. Playing enough zone and enough Jason Kidd to keep Kobe Bryant in check against the Lakers.
But, sorry, that opinion is crazier than a Kentucky Derby hat.
Said Carlisle on ESPN's First Take: "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."
Dirk has been an MVP and a 10-time All-Star. He's been to The Finals, won the All-Star 3-point shooting contest and is one of only four players to average 25/10 in the playoffs. If he continues his scoring pace the rest of his contract, he'll finish his career as the NBA's sixth all-time leading scorer.
He's a first-ballot, no-brainer Hall of Famer. But Top 10? All-time? Nope. Not even close.
Not without a ring.
How about Jordan, Jabbar, Russell, Wilt, Magic, Bird, Duncan, Kobe, Oscar and Shaq for a Top 10? And that's without any head-scratchin' research.
A better debate is this: Is Dirk among the NBA's Top 10 all-time best players to never win a championship?
I think so.
My list goes something like this:
10. Reggie Miller -- More clutch 3-pointers than any player in NBA history
9. Steve Nash -- Two MVPs but never made it to NBA Finals
8. Patrick Ewing -- 16th all-time leading scorer changed NBA with his initimidating defense
7. Dirk Nowitzki -- '07 MVP has led Mavs to 11 consecutive 50+ win/playoff seasons
6. Charles Barkley -- '93 MVP led NBA in rebounding three times and was original Dream Teamer
5. Elgin Baylor -- 11-time All-Star and Hall of Famer somehow 0-8 in NBA Finals
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4. LeBron James -- 2-time MVP and transcendent athlete destined for more awards
3. John Stockton -- NBA's all-time assist and steals leader lost to Jordan's Bulls in two Finals
2. Allen Iverson -- '01 MVP one of only four players to lead NBA in scoring four times
1. Karl Malone -- 2-time MVP is 2nd all-time leading scorer behind only Kareem