'Damn!' Dirk Reacts To Jokic Comparison
DALLAS - Folks who are watching Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic ply his trade in the NBA Playoffs are so impressed that they are moved to compare "The Joker'' to the best European player ever - Dirk Nowitzki.
Yet, in typical Dirk fashion, the retired Dallas Mavericks legend is the one who is flattered.
“Damn,” Nowitzki said of the comparison, via Zach Lowe of ESPN. “That’s a compliment. I wish I had his skill set. His passing is so good it’s a joke.''
It's no joke that Jokic and every other Euro big man - maybe from here to eternity - is going to find himself compared to the virtually incomparable Dirk. The All-Star big man Jokic can not only cleverly find teammates in the half-court; he can handle the ball in transition, and he can spot open Nuggets teammates while backing down or facing up opponents on the block.
The Los Angeles Lakers have his Nuggets down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals, so this doesn't look like Jokic's year to be an NBA finalist (though Denver fans will tell you that being down 3-1 has worked for them before). But titles can take time ... as Nowitzki knows as well as anyone.
The 7-footer Dirk finally got there in large part because of his offensive gifts, of course. After 20 years and a title he amassing 31,560 points in his career. Along the way, he also became a capable defender, a good rebounder and a proficient sharer of the ball. But by the numbers, he averaged just 2.4 assists per game for his career, while the 7-footer Jokic is a seven-assists-per game guy.
Why the gap in assists? "I, unfortunately, always wanted to score and not pass,'' Nowitzki joked.