Dirk Nowitzki has been compared to Larry Bird ever since we heard about Dirk Nowitzki. They’re both tall, blond, white guys who can shoot really well. They’re so aesthetically similar that it’s only natural to compare them, just like Notorious B.I.G. and Guerilla Black, except without the stench of mimicry.
However, Bird has a different towheaded comparison for Dirk, one that you don’t hear too often. From ESPN:
“He’s had a great run (in the playoffs), but I’ve always been very impressed with him,” Bird said. “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.” [...]
“He keeps his guys involved,” Bird said. “He finds his shooters when he’s double-teamed. Something that really helped me out is every time I got in trouble, I always had big men to throw it to. I always thought that took a lot of pressure off me.
“Dirk plays the game like Mully (Chris Mullin). He plays it at his pace. You can think the game out a lot easier if you’re going at your pace.”
OK, maybe we should let Larry Bird do all of the player comparisons from now on, because that’s pretty excellent. Not only is the Chris Mullin reference unexpected, he also does a great job of highlighting what makes Dirk great while tossing in a few self-deprecating zings.
Even though it’s unexpected, Bird’s Mullin comp is fairly accurate. Check out their numbers through age 32, remember that they played different positions that value different things (rebounds for Dirk, assists for Mullin) and that Dirk is half-a-foot taller, and you’ll see that Bird’s pretty spot-on. They’re both great shooters who keep their teammates involved, played pretty deliberately, have hilarious accents and have worked with Don Nelson. Good call, Larry Bird.
This might sound crazy, but someone should consider hiring Larry Bird to make basketball decisions. With scouting eyes like these I think he could have a decent future running a team.