While I am not a fan of comparisons between Dirk Nowitzki and Larry Bird (I’m cool with discussing their scoring and shooting ability, but I give Bird a huge advantage when it comes to passing and various other stuff), it’s certainly fun to hear Larry Legend share his thoughts on the big German.
Marc Stein of ESPN reports:
“He’s had a great run (in the playoffs), but I’ve always been very impressed with him,” Larry Bird said [about Dirk Nowitzki]. “His work ethic, his loyalty to his country. It’s really an honor for me to have people compare us.
“He rebounds. He plays at his own pace. He sort of controls the tempo on offense. It’d be nice to be 7 foot and when they run plays and switch (defenders) on him, it doesn’t bother him at all. He can see over everybody.
“He’s got the step-backs. He gets to the rim. The difficulty of some of the shots that he makes … one thing about him is that he’s always got great balance. His shot looks like he’s falling away, but he’s got a lot of balance when the shot goes up.
“I understand (the comparisons). I’ve always felt it’s an honor when they compare anyone to me, because I haven’t played ball for 20 years.”
Asked how much he would have enjoyed the opportunity to take Nowitzki on in one of his legendary post-practice shooting games, Bird said: “I would have loved to compete against all these young guys: LeBron (James), (Kevin) Durant, Dirk. When you play this game, you want to go up against the very best. But I can’t even beat Magic (Johnson) in a H-O-R-S-E game any more. That’s how far I’ve fallen.”
One more comment on passing ability: Bird is my favorite passing forward of all time, but it has to be said that he had teammates who cut to the basket far more often than Dirk’s stand-in-three-point-range teammates do. Still, Bird passed the rock as well as almost anyone who ever played the game. I can’t come close to saying anything like that about Dirk.