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NBA Legend Calls Mavs' Dirk Nowitzki 'GOAT' of European Basketball

Mavs icon Dirk Nowitzki was recently called the greatest European basketball player in NBA history by a fellow legend of the game.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2023 was loaded with icons that made a major impact on the game. Among the new set of inductees includes Dallas Mavericks icon Dirk Nowitzki and San Antonio Spurs icon Tony Parker, who shared no shortage of duels over the years. 

Between Nowitzki, Parker, and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Pau Gasol, there was a heavy European basketball presence in this year's class. Parker credits Nowitzki for setting the tone and transforming the landscape for players from Europe, calling him the "GOAT for European basketball."

"It started with Dirk," Parker said. "Dirk paved the way. I always say Dirk is the GOAT for European basketball. He was the one who was the first one to be a franchise player."

Nowitzki, who often remains humble about his own career, appreciated the remark, but gave credit to several European basketball standouts that came before him, including Detlef Schrempf, Toni Kukoc, and Peja Stojakovic.

"He told me that yesterday and I was very humbled by that," Nowitzki said. "I always give credit to everybody else. I think there were guys that paved the way for me with (Detlef Schrempf), Toni Kukoc and Peja Stojakovic, so many others. ... If I came in and helped and inspire and motivate guys along the way, then that makes me incredibly proud."

In general, Nowitzki finds it challenging to make comparisons for players from different eras. He is a firm believer that the style is different era-by-era, but regardless, he appreciated Parker's compliment. 

"It's always hard, though, to pick a GOAT," Nowitzki said. "I think that's part of a special debate. Everybody's always wanting to compare eras and it's just impossible to do. The styles change.

"The game is so different now than 20 years ago when I got into the league. It's hard," Nowitzki explained. "It's hard to compare. If that's his opinion, then of course, I'm very glad to hear that and I'm very proud to hear that."

Grant Afseth is a Dallas Mavericks reporter for and an NBA reporter for NBA Analysis Network. He previously covered the Indiana Pacers and NBA for CNHI's Kokomo Tribune and various NBA teams for USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Follow him on Twitter (@grantafseth), Facebook (@grantgafseth), and YouTube (@grantafseth).

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