Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: My Dirk Nowitzki ‘one-trick pony’ comments were misconstrued

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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Last year, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said of Dirk Nowitzki:

Dirk Nowitzki’s shot is very hard to block, but I don’t think that he was able to have a dominant career because he couldn’t do other things. If he could have shot like that and rebounded and played defense and blocked shots, then he would have been all-around, and he would have gotten more credit. He was like a one-trick pony. You want guys that can shoot like that on your team. I’m not saying that he lacked value, but he would have been considered at a higher level if he had done more on the court other than just shoot the ball.

Abdul Jabbar this week on ESPN, as transcribed by Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“I want to make a shout-out to Dirk,” Abdul-Jabbar told Nichols. “Some of the statements I made about him were misconstrued to make it seem like I was trying to knock him and knock his career.

“Nothing could be farther from the truth.’’

Of Nowitzki, Abdul-Jabbar went on to say: “He helped the game evolve by stretching the court with his accurate 3-point shooting. Anybody that can lead the league multiple times as the leading scorer is awesome.

“And anything that I said that made anybody think differently, they got it wrong. And I wanted him to hear that from me.”

Nowitzki was an underrated rebounder, defender and passer in his prime. That’s why he led the Mavericks to the 2011 title.

If he had done those things better, would he have been better? Um, sure. That’s not really a point.

And Nowitzki used his primary skill – shooting – to great effect all over the floor in a variety of actions. It’s an oversimplification to call it a single trick.

I don’t know what Abdul-Jabbar originally meant, but it sure sounded as if he was selling Nowitzki short. I don’t blame anyone for walking away believing that was his intent.

But good for Abdul-Jabbar for praising Nowitzki now – even if he’s changing his tune rather more than setting the record straight, though this is probably some of both.