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Dirk Nowitzki breaks record for points by international player

Memphis Grizzlies v Dallas Mavericks

Memphis Grizzlies v Dallas Mavericks

NBAE/Getty Images

Dirk Nowitzki, one of the NBA’s greatest offensive players and global ambassadors, has cemented his status in the league’s record books.

By scoring 17 points against the Kings tonight, the Mavericks star passed Hakeem Olajuwon for most points by an international player:

Dirk NowitzkiGermany26947
Hakeem OlajuwonNigeria26946
Tim DuncanU.S. Virgin Islands24962
Patrick EwingJamaica24815
Rolando BlackmanPanama17623
Steve NashCanada17387
Pau GasolSpain16723
Tony ParkerFrance16157
Kiki VandewegheGermany15980
Detlef SchrempfGermany15761

Fittingly, Nowitzki’s record-breaking points came on a mid-range jumper, his signature shot. Nowitzki uses his 7-foot height to take shots over defenders unlike anyone has before him. It’s a style developed in Europe, where big men were more commonly taught skills outside the paint.

As Nowitzki’s style has influenced the NBA, he has helped spread the league’s profile overseas. Germany, thanks to Vandeweghe and Schrempf, already had an NBA presence, but Nowitzki took it to a whole other level.

Of course, Nowitzki’s impact is felt here, too. With a championship and increasingly impressive career marks, Nowitzki has a strong résumé when it comes to debating the all-time greats. He now ranks ninth all-time in points:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar38387
Karl Malone36928
Michael Jordan32292
Kobe Bryant31859
Wilt Chamberlain31419
Shaquille O’Neal28596
Moses Malone27409
Elvin Hayes27313
Dirk Nowitzki26947
Hakeem Olajuwon26946

If Nowitzki matches his scoring total from last season, he’ll pass Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone and Shaquille O’Neal for sixth all time.

Nowitzki is headed to the Hall of Fame. There’s no question about that.

But his legacy – both in terms of on-court brilliance and international impact – isn’t yet fully determined. At 36, he’s still excelling, and with his consistent jumper, no end is in sight.