Larry Bird Honored to be Compared to Dirk Nowitzki
Entering Game 1 of the NBA Finals, most observers agreed that Dirk Nowitzki had been the best player in the playoffs. During his games, announcers frequently debated his place in history. Coach Rick Carlisle stated he felt Dirk was a Top 30 player all time. Former coach and current analyst Jeff Van Gundy proclaimed during Dirk’s brilliant Game 1 against the Thunder that Nowitzki was a Top 10 player all time.
Inevitably, people began comparing Dirk to Larry Bird, suggesting Nowitzki may be the greatest white player ever. Even though their style of play is different, people thought the comparison was fair because of their skin color. By that logic, we should assume limes and broccoli taste the same because they’re both green. It’s a stupid debate, but it’s resulted in a response from Larry Legend.
“I’ve always admired the guy,” Bird told Marc Stein. “He’s had a great run (in the playoffs), but I’ve always been very impressed with him. His work ethic, his loyalty to his country. It’s really an honor for me to have people compare us.”
Bird added that “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.”
He’s honored to be mentioned because it means people consider him one of the NBA’s greats, which it’s hard not to. But again, I just think they’re different players. Dirk is a seven-footer who plays power forward while Bird was 6’9″ and played small forward. Additionally, and this is where I think there’s the biggest difference, Bird was just a better passer. Bird averaged over six assists per game and in his worst year averaged more assists per game than Dirk ever did in his best year. Where are they most similar? Both are incredible shooters who were dead-eyes at the free throw line and threats to score at any moment.
Even though Bird is being modest by saying he’s honored, I would say he has a more complete game than Dirk. But it really doesn’t matter because both players are great. In order to settle things, maybe we should just get Scottie Pippen on the line.