Tag:Larry Bird
Posted on: January 12, 2012 12:48 am

Duncan passes Bird on all-time scoring

By Matt Moore

As Tim Duncan's career winds down, we start to get a sense of just where he stands in NBA history. Wednesday night that became a bit clearer as Duncan passed Larry Bird on the all-time scoring list at No.27 with 17 points against the Houston Rockets, making his total 21,798 for his career. 

Project Spurs does have some context to provide in regards to how quickly Bird and Duncan hit this mark.  
Once Duncan passes Bird, the next player is Gary Payton (ranked 26th) with 21,813 points which TD should be able to surpass this season.

Also, it should be noted Bird scored this career points in fewer games (897) while TD scored his career points in 1,063 games and counting.
via TD on the verge of another milestone | January.

Also notable, Duncan is behind Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Dirk Nowitzki on the list among his contemporaries. Proof of how great the players of the last fifteen years have been.

Duncan's relatively low ranking is emblematic of his real impact, as a player that did everything on the floor. He's 22nd all-time in rebounds. Tenth all time in blocks. His impact on both ends was greater than any metric can adequately portray, and I'm a pretty metrics-based guy.

Duncan continues to put his stamp on the career of the best power forward in NBA history.  
Posted on: October 9, 2011 10:21 am

Brian Wilson is Larry Bird... or something

Posted by Royce Young

You have to give it to the NBA 2K series. They constantly crank out terrific games, but on top of it, their marketing is always sublime. The latest batch of commercials have been good, but pretty much all you have to do is put Giants closer Brian Wilson -- and his beard -- in some Stockton-style tight shorts, a blond wig and let him riff on the Celtics, and you've got a winner. Guarans.

Posted on: October 3, 2011 6:40 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 6:44 pm

LeBron James, Miami Heat need full NBA season

Posted by Ben Golliver


The first title has to be clean.

When you’re playing with an eye towards history and your expressed purpose is to serve as the NBA’s next great dynasty, the first championship won’t be compared to just any old title. 

No, it will be judged against the first titles won by previous legends and it will have to stack up on some key criteria. The title must come against top competition. The title must be secured with the franchise player leaving his stamp on the key moments. And, most importantly, there can’t be any loopholes or asterisks. If prospective basketball Kings eye immortality, those criteria are nonnegotiable.

The greatest to ever do it, Michael Jordan, won MVP all six times he went to the NBA Finals. Along the way, he knocked off an entire generation of stars: Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, and the list goes on. In securing his first title, Jordan knocked off the defending champion Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals and sent home arguably the greatest player of the 1980s, Magic Johnson, in the Finals. Jordan averaged an astonishing 31.2 points, 11.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 1.4 blocks and shot 55.8 percent from the field in the five-game romp over the Lakers.

That’s clean. Just try to pick nits over that. The fact that the Pistons stomped off the court in defeat and Johnson graciously passed the torch only adds to the legend. That's clean.

Johnson’s own story is nearly as strong. As a rookie, he won Finals MVP for leading the Lakers past a loaded Philadelphia 76ers team with center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sidelined with an ankle injury. Just 20-years-old, he famously played all five positions in the deciding game, putting up 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and secured the title on the road, sending Hall of Famer Julius Erving and company home empty-handed. Pretty damn clean.

Rookie Bill Russell grabbing 32 rebounds in Game 7 of the 1957 Finals for the Boston Celtics to defeat the St. Louis Hawks, led by Hall of Famer Bob Pettit. Clean. In 1981, Larry Bird nearly averaged a triple-double -- 15.3 points, 15.3 rebounds and seven assists per game -- and memorably rebounded and reloaded his own miss in mid-air for one of basketball’s greatest highlights in defeating the Houston Rockets, led by Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. Clean.

For immortality, that’s the standard. Sure, it’s nearly impossible to match, but if we’re talking about “not one, not two, not three, not four” levels of greatness, that’s what you’re up against. The performance must be unimpeachable.

With the notable exceptions of guard Dwyane Wade, forward Udonis Haslem and president Pat Riley, 2011-2012 is shaping up to be the first title for all the key members of the Miami Heat. LeBron James. Chris Bosh. Head coach Erik Spoelstra. Whichever cadaver is brought in to play center. And, really, if we wind up talking about a Heat dynasty 20 years from now, 2006 won’t be mentioned, except with regard to Wade. All that will truly matter is how many rings get stacked up over the next 6-to-8 years.

That’s especially true for James, who has the best shot at joining basketball's all-timers. The last thing that James needs at this juncture, then, is an asterisk. And a shortened season is about as big as asterisks come.

Nothing says impeachable quite like winning a title in one of only two seasons in the past forty that were played with less than 82 games. Nothing says loophole like jogging through a 50-game spread against opponents in varying degrees of condition and then suiting up for a playoffs that very well could include a bunch of teams that shouldn't be there. All six of Jordan’s titles came in 82-game seasons; all five of Johnson’s titles came in 82-game seasons; all three of Bird’s titles came in 82-game seasons. If James wants to climb that mountain, and he should, he's being handed a tough trail.

James, already with more detractors than he can handle, will be damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t if a single NBA game is canceled, as is expected to be announced later this week. James was already held to a higher standard than your typical NBA superstar, but, title-less at age 26 and coming off of back-to-back summers in which he alienated vast swaths of basketball fans with the “Decision” and then dramatically collapsed in the 2011 NBA Finals, pressure and expectations have only mounted. To win a title in any way except in pristine conditions and through overwhelming statistical production will not suffice. “Yeah, he won, but it was a lockout,” critics will say. “MJ never needed a short season to win a championship.”

The expectations James feels are mirrored by those facing his organization. After the preseason parade, the “teaming up,” the “taking their talents to South Beach,” and the instant success reflected by a Finals run in their first year together, Miami badly needs revenge and redemption. But neither revenge nor redemption will taste sweet if everyone is harping that it “doesn’t count” because of the work stoppage.

If James and the Heat do take home their first title in June, it won’t be enough. Their only hope is to keep winning, a lot, stacking up enough jewelry so that the "lockout title" is no longer worth mentioning. Until that happens, “sure, he won three (or four, or five) titles, but…” will follow them like a pox.  Because the doubts don’t stop at multiple rings. Just ask Olajuwon, who won two in the 1990s. “But Jordan was playing baseball.” The doubts don’t even stop at five. Just ask guard Kobe Bryant. “But it was Shaquille O’Neal’s team for the first three.” Paradoxically, then, winning this season could serve to increase expectations for the Heat rather than satiate them. Winning to prove that winning wasn't a fluke is a vicious cycle.

The Heat and their fans will likely respond to this line of argumentation by saying that they don’t care about what outsiders think. That history can only be written one season at a time and that it would be better to win a title and get the monkey off the bag. That’s the right approach. But, deep down, they want their first title of the modern era to be indisputable more than anyone else. They've been through the fire, they've suffered through the media circus, they've absorbed all the criticism. James surely wants to bathe in champagne like a care-free child knowing that he put decades of doubt to bed once and for all.

And, surely, as a student of the game, he knows that’s impossible in a shortened season. If one game is lost, it might as well be all 82 for Miami. Labor negotiations are a dirty game, and a corrupted 2012 NBA title could never be clean.
Posted on: August 19, 2011 1:12 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 1:33 pm

NBA 2K12 reveals 15 basketball legends

Posted by Ben Golliver

NBA 2K12 has finally revealed its full list of the 15 basketball legends that will be included in this year's game. The group is led by the game's three cover boys -- Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson -- and also includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving, who were revealed in early August.

The final ten names, in alphabetical order: Wilt Chamberlain, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Jerry West.

The final list aligns fairly well with the suggestions we made a few weeks back. Chamberlain, Olajuwon, Robertson, Russell, Thomas and West were all included on our list of preferred candidates. Of course, that means there are some of bones to pick with the remaining four names: Ewing, Pippen, Stockton, Malone.

For starters, that group makes the overall list really heavy on the 1990s, a time when Jordan was king. That makes sense from a marketing and business standpoint, as those are often seen as the golden years of the NBA for men aged 25-40, presumably a major demographic who will be purchasing this game. But if you're going to go all 1990s, leaving Charles Barkley and the insanely fun early-1990s Phoenix Suns off the list is inexcusable. Barkley over Ewing or one of the Jazz pair is a no-brainer. 

NBA 2K12 smartly mitigated against widespread snubbing, though, by including a whole host of other legends in a roundabout way. How? As Kotaku.com notes, Barkley and other top-50 players like Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O'Neal, Pete Maravich,  Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier will be available as players on the opposing teams facing off against the legends in a series of "NBA's Greatest" rivalry games. Barkley will appear as a member of Dr. J's 76ers and a young O'Neal will be on the 1994-1995 Orlando Magic. Here's the full list of match-ups.
  • 1964-65 Boston Celtics (Bill Russell) vs. Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (Oscar Robertson) vs. Lakers
  • 1970-71 Lakers (Jerry West) vs. Atlanta Hawks
  • 1971-72 Lakers (Wilt Chamberlain) vs. Knicks
  • 1984-1985 Philadelphia 76ers (Julius Erving) vs. Bucks
  • 1985-86 Celtics (Larry Bird) vs. Hawks
  • 1986-87 Lakers (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) vs. Celtics
  • 1988-1989 Detroit Pistons (Isiah Thomas) vs. Bulls
  • 1990-91 Lakers (Magic Johnson) vs. Portland Trail Blazers
  • 1992-1993 Bulls (Michael Jordan) vs. Charlotte Hornets
  • 1993-1994 Houston Rockets (Hakeem Olajuwon) vs. Denver Nuggets
  • 1994-1995 Knicks (Patrick Ewing) vs. Orlando Magic
  • 1995-1996 Bulls (Scottie Pippen) vs. Seattle Supersonics
  • 1997-1998 Utah Jazz (John Stockton) vs. Lakers
  • 1997-1998 Jazz (Karl Malone) vs. San Antonio Spurs
It's good to know the game was able to squeeze in just about everyone, even if deserving guys like Maravich, Baylor and O'Neal were left off the "15 legends" list. With the match-up mode expanding the starpower, this game is shaping up to be incredibly sick.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:30 pm

Reports: Indiana Pacers part ways with scouts

Posted by Ben Golliverlarry-bird-pacers

Not even Larry Legend is immune to the NBA lockout blues.

Indiana Pacers president and Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird's organization got bit by the lockout bug this week, as the Pacers reportedly laid off three long-time scouts to trim their budget.

Yahoo! Sports has more.
In another lockout-related cost-cutting move, the Indiana Pacers have let go of three veteran scouts, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Joe Ash, Leonard Perry and Brian Winters didn’t have their contracts renewed for the 2011-12 season.

“I had a great run there with Larry Bird, and appreciated the opportunity to work with Larry and the Pacers,” Ash told Yahoo! Sports when reached at his Naples, Fla., home on Monday. “I would’ve liked to continue, but I understand the nature of the business. Hopefully something else will turn up once [the lockout] gets sorted out.”
IndyStar.com reports that the moves were not publicly forecasted, as Jim Morris, the team's Sports and Entertainment President, said earlier this summer that there wouldn't be layoffs because of the lockout.

The moves come at a critical juncture for the Pacers future. In our summer Roster Rankings, Indiana placed No. 10 in the league thanks to a young core that includes Roy Hibbert, George Hill, Darren Collison and Paul George. The team also boasts Danny Granger and cap space to make a splash during the next free agency period.

The Pacers are one major signing and a tweak or two from being long-term players in the Eastern Conference. It makes sense that their basketball operations focus would shift from scouting college players to focusing on pro personnel, and the organization recently hired former Portland Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard to assist in that effort.

Still, this is almost certainly simple belt-tightening. The Pacers ranked dead last in average home attendance last season and their gate receipts are well below league average, while ownership reports that it has sustained heavy losses for years.
Posted on: August 5, 2011 2:40 pm

Magic says '92 Dream Team would crush '08

By Matt Moore

Here's a fun one. Let's take the greatest collection of NBA talent ever assembled, based on production, historical legacy, the convenient exaggeration provided by time, and "Oh My God" factor of ability and then throw them up against the 2008 version of that team, hampered by a lack of said historical perspective, the absence of the greatest player of all time, coming just months after arguably the three greatest players eligible to play for said team were eliminated in embarassing fashion. How does that work out? 

In short order, the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team, AKA "The Dream Team" was better than the 2008 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team, AKA "The Redeem Team."

Shocking, I know.

But that's the story today, straight from the point guard's mouth, as Magic Johnson spoke about the team and how it compares to the most recent squad. Video courtesy of the L.A. Times, along with the subsequent quote from the Magic Man:

"When you think about the Olympics and the Dream Team, I have to throw it to you," Johnson said. "Kobe [Bryant] and them won by 22 points. Ehh, 22 points? We won by an average of 44 points. So when they want to step up to that, you tell them we'll be waiting on them."
via Magic Johnson discusses Dream Team's superiority to Redeem Team - latimes.com.

Well, then, Earvin. Way to go out on a limb.

Johnson's right, of course. But using margin of victory? That's a pretty thin construct. Jack McCallum used a much better system for establishing Dream Team I's dominance.  There's any number of ways to prove it. But margin of victory? The international basketball community is quite a bit better now than it was back in '92 and if you want proof of that take a look at the Gasol brothers and the Finals MVP. But beyond that? The ability to run it up should never be used to determine the gap between two clubs. It's an insignificant detail and Magic, who came from an era that focused on wins and losses more than statistical production far more than the balance does now should be aware that the scoreboard doesn't always tell the story. 

At the same time... come on. Jordan. Magic. Bird. And whether it's a lack of perspective due to recency, the glorified impact of legacy for those players as undisupted Hall of Famers while Kobe Bryant is still writing his story, let alone the younger crew on Redeem Team '08, the fact remains. Primacy. The first to come will always make the greatest impact. There will be those who will always say Russell or Wilt was better than Shaq or Hakeem (and they probably were, based on all the evidence they have) simply based on their appearance coming sooner in the collective history of the sports. And so every Dream Team will live in the first's shadow, just as every talented perimeter player will live in Jordan's.

It's a no-win proposition, but hey. It makes for a fun story to think about on a slow day.

And no matter how you feel about it, Bird checking James and vice versa sounds like a fun watch.  
Posted on: August 3, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 7:43 pm

NBA 2K12 to feature 15 basketball legends

Posted by Ben Golliver


A few weeks back, we noted that a trio of NBA legends -- Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan, Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird -- would grace commemoratice covers of this year's NBA 2K12 video game. It turns out those three won't be the only legendary basketball players to be featured in this year's game.

IGN.com reports that NBA 2K12 will feature a game mode called "NBA's Greatest" which will allow the user to play through 15 historic games and control 15 basketball legends. "His Airness is back," a trailer for the game declares. "This time he brought friends."
Players announced so far are: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Julius "Dr. J" Erving, plus 10 other legends to be announced in the coming weeks. The historic games feature the entire team rosters, accurate stadiums, and are presented to look like TV broadcasts from their respective era. 

To add icing to the cake, the classic teams can be unlocked and played in game against contemporary lineups. Kobe vs. Kareem. Dr. J vs. KG. Jordan vs. LBbron. 

"There's the age old debate how players and teams from today would compare with teams of yesterday," said Jason Argent, vice president of marketing for 2K Sports. "We want to settle that debate." 
We can all breathe a sign of relief that Abdul-Jabbar made the cut. Lord knows he wouldn't have taken a snubbing very well after not immediately getting a statue at Staples Center like he has demanded.

While the other ten names on the list haven't been announced yet, here's who I would pick, in no particular order. Note: We're looking for video game fun and a good diversity of eras here. Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Pete Maravich, Jerry West, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Isiah Thomas and Elgin Baylor. Honorable mention goes to guys like Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Moses Malone and Bernard King. 

As for the snubs? Willis Reed's return from injury needs to be included in the most memorable games list somehow and it's difficult to leave off guys like John Havlicek, David Robinson, Bob Cousy, George Mikan, John Stockton and Karl Malone.

Here's a promotional video trailer of the game courtesy of IGM.com. NBA 2K12 is set to be released on Oct. 4, 2011.

Images above taken from video trailer
Posted on: July 30, 2011 5:25 pm

Legend vs. Star: Larry Bird vs. Dirk Nowitzki

By Matt Moore

We live in an immediate society. The internet, social media, the ever-accelerating news cycle, everything means that the next 30 seconds is 10 times more important than the last 30 seconds regardless of what actually happened in the past 30 seconds. As a result, we lose perspective on what stands truly relevant from the past. The NBA is no exception. So in an attempt to merge the two worlds (since, as a blog, we love/hate/want to be BFFs within the next 30 seconds), we'll be bringing you a look at players past and present, in relation to one another.

This is important enough, we're going to bold it. Legend Vs. Star is not meant to necessarily decide who was "better." You're talking about different eras, with different rules, with fewer teams. The objective here is to discuss the two and how they're alike and dissimilar. It's an exercise in exploration of the present through the context of the past and vice versa. Or to put it another way, no need to flood the comments with "Whatever! (Player X) was/is way better than (Player Y), there's no comparison!" Since they're both basketball players who played in the same basketball league, I'm pretty sure you can make the comparison.

This week we explore the belief of 2011 NBA Champion head coach Rick Carlisle of the two greatest players he's ever shared a team with, Dirk Nowitzki and Larry Bird.

There's a dichotomy that exists in public knowledge and awareness of Larry Bird. Because Bird was born into an NBA with a significant problem around television contracts and because of the stunning fame he entered into as a revelation on the floor, Bird is very different in the eyes of those who watched him on a daily basis and in the lore his name has become synonomous with. This isn't to say one is greater than the other. Both versions of Bird are equally heralded as belonging to the greatest players of all time, even if they're conceptualized differently.

If Jordan was idolized the way a great political leader is, with posters and video propoganda and a crushing history of success, and if Magic Johnson is glorified the way movie stars are, with the perfect picture magazine covers and the walk of fame, Bird is more folk tale. He's spoken of in terms that are general. It's not any one area that's discussed, it's his overall greatness. He overwhelmed the game. The idea of Bird is not so different than an army of Birds always on the floor. Always making the perfect pass. Always hitting the clutch shot. Stealing the ball when there is no logical reason for him to be able to steal the ball. Hitting shots off the backboard, off the ceiling. The difference in that McDonalds commercial is you'd believe the idea of someone telling you Bird could hit a shot like that, and you'd believe seeing Jordan hit a shot like that. In reality, neither would surprise you, even if it's not physically possible.

In reality, Bird was a mega-forward with an intensity that couldn't be topped. That's the best way to describe him. He was capable of adjusting his game to nearly anything that was required. If he needed to rebound, he could snatch 20 in a game. If he needed to deliver the passes and be the all-around distributor, he did. And if he needed to light of the scoreboard like the Fourth of July, he did. Bird left his mark on every game whether the shot was there or not. In a lot of ways, LeBron James is more like him than any other player, except for Bird's ability to consistently hit from anywhere on the floor. He was a marksman shooter, a stud rebounder, a gifted passer. The crossover between the ideallic Bird and the actual Bird was the intensity and will to win that drove his play to resemble a one-man army. It was like Bird was everywhere on the floor at the same time. You weren't facing the five Celtics on the floor, you were facing four Celtics and five Celtic Birds, and you had to guard all of them. And worse still, they could all pass. 

Bird burned beneath the failures of not matching Magic Johnson right out of the gate after the 1980 Lakers championship, only to turn around and win his own first ring in 81 over the Rockets. Bird was defined by his rivalry with Johnson, and has never suffered the brutal examination current players are given when their rival winds up with more rings. Bird experienced a year of struggle, then success, then two years of frustration, then won the title again two out of three years. In essence, Bird burned not out of frustration and desperation for the elusive championship, but from some type of motor that inexhaustibly searched out glory. 

And then, we have Nowitzki.

When we look at the two players, race is most often brought up, as if that's the only comparison for two gangly players with unbelievable scoring ability who stayed with their franchise for the duration of their tenure. It's true that quite often the two players are compared solely on the basis of race, but instead, I was drawn to compare and contrast the two because of how strongly and how often Carlisle brought up Bird's name when discussing Nowitzki in the Finals. Carlisle was adamant, having played with Bird, that the two were comparable. Bird, when asked to comment, was his usual (publicly) humble self, saying it was an honor to be compared to Nowitzki. People took umbrage but largely missed the fact that Carlisle was in large part comparing their will to win, their passion, and their ability to rise to the moment. He referenced Bird when Nowitzki was dealing with a torn ligament in his hand in the Finals, talking about how the great players play through that kind of pain. There is a comparison there, a symmetry between the two, even if they are far from identical idenities on or off the floor. 

Bird experienced immediate and consistent success in his first seven years in the league. Nowitzki just won his first title in his 13th season. Bird was once and forever known as the toughest competitor, a downright mean son of a gun who would do whatever it took to win. Nowitzki had his toughness challenged until the past few years when it became apparent just how versatile he was. Nowitzki went from being a defensive liability to being underrated as a defender. And all the while, Nowitzki was the consummate leader who led the Mavericks to unparalleled success. Both are quiet men who don't brag but will quite willinglly let you know when they're victorious. Both want to win, like all the great ones do, but that doesn't make them unique. What makes them unique is their determination not only to win, but to win on their terms. Bird never left the Celtics, Nowitzki never left the Mavs. Loyal leadership is hard to come by in this league, and both men epitomized it. 

If it felt like Bird was a one-man army, an onslaught of different players cresting the hill to storm your team's gates, Nowitzki is the opposite. Nothing illustrated Dirk's on-floor identity of greatness like the 2011 playoff run, wherein it felt legitimately like Nowitzki could take on all five players at once. Double-teams, triple-teams, you name it, Dirk beat it, hitting the fadeaway time after time. Body him, zone him, swarm to him, delay the double, immediately bring the double, play him in space, front him, attack the pass, do whatever you want. Nowitzki had an answer. And that's been his whole career really. If Bird was constantly in feud with Magic Johnson, it was Dirk who wound up caught in a flurry of greatness. Bird had to topple Magic and Kareem, Dr. J and Moses. Once Jordan really found his footing, Bird's time had already passed. But Nowitzki? He suffered through the Shaq-Kobe mini-dynasty, played in the same division as Tim Duncan and Popovich's Spurs throughout the entirety of the last decade, faced the crushing defeat by the Heat in 2006, the bizarro meltdown in 2007, and the Lakers' resurgence behind Pau Gasol teamed with Bryant (along with Odom and Bynum). In short, if I were to tell you a few slight differences could have led to three or four titles for Nowitzki, you wouldn't be sympathetic (that's how these things go), but you wouldn't be surprised either. 

The career totals are fascinating. If we compare their career averages on a per-minute basis, we see that per 36 minutes, Bird averaged 22.8 points to Nowitzki's 22.6, 9.4 rebounds to Nowitzki's 8.3, 6.0 assists to Dirk's 2.3, 1.6 steals to Dirk's 0.9, and 2.9 turnovers to Dirk's 1.9. Perhaps most stunningly, for a player that is arguably the best pure offensive player of the past ten years, and at very worst in the top five, Nowitzki's .476 field goal percentage pales in comparison to Bird's .496. That's just a two percentage point differential, but it's the gap between a 50 percent career shooter and a 48 percent. That's a big deal in the NBA. I was surprised to find that after both players had logged 13 years in the league, Dirk has 233 more blocks than Bird. That's more indicative of Dirk's seven-foot stature and Bird's more perimeter-based role playing than anything, but still surprising considering the two players' reputations. Taken out of the per-minute ranges into the per-game averages, Bird has the clear upperhand, and while his career minutes average is nearly two minutes higher, it doesn't change the impact he had which was greater than Nowitzki in nearly every way. I shouldn't have to really tell you that Bird was a greater player in his time than Nowitzki, but for those who balk at the absence of a definitive and nearly dogmatic appraisal of the past as always better in order to protect a legacy that is untarnishable, there it is: Larry Bird was better than Dirk Nowitzki. 

Nowitzki's best single season: 24.6 with 8.9 rebounds on 50 percent shooting in 2006-2007. 

Bird's single best season (arguably, it's tough between '84 and 88'):  28.1 points and 9.2 rebounds on 53 percent shooting (from a forward on the perimeter) with 7.6 assists in 1986-1987.

Not too shabby either way, but the results are the same. 

Still, the two provide an interesting, if loose parallel, and an examination of what one player can mean to a franchise. They defined their teams in their eras, and will stand as two of the greatest the game has ever seen. 

And if you're ever looking to see what a truly great jump shot looks like? Just examine either one. It's less about mechanics and more about art and beauty, wrapped in daggers. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com