Having been around numerous Hall of Fame players during his playing days with the Boston Celtics as well as having the opportunity to coach some all-time greats during his three head coaching tenures in the NBA, Dallas Mavericks’ head coach Rick Carlisle says one player doesn’t get the credit he deserves in terms of greatness, and that man is Dirk Nowitzki.
“He will go down as an all-time great without question, but I still think he’s going to be very underrated,” Carlisle said of his current Mavericks forward.
Carlisle says that for the majority of Nowitzki’s career he’s been asked to do more than most other Hall of Fame caliber players.
“I don’t know of anybody in the history of the game that has carried the burden of a franchise so much on his own shoulder as Dirk has,” Carlisle said of the 38-year-old German. “A lot of these great players played with other Hall of Famers for many years of their careers, and it just hasn’t been that way with Dirk. So what he’s done is amazingly impressive, and if things keep going the way they’re going, he’s going to be at 30,000 points before long.”
The 2010-11 NBA Champion head coach also spoke about the upcoming season and what his expectations are for Harrison Barnes, the 24-year-old forward who signed a max contract with the Mavericks this summer.
“He’s an excellent all-around player. He’s been a championship caliber system player for Golden State. This is an opportunity for him to increase his productivity,” Carlisle said. “If you look at his stats over the four years, he’s gone steadily up statistically each year and we want him to develop into a guy who is more of a primary producer, and that’s not going to happen overnight. It’s a different mentality, it’s a different kind of job and so forth. But we have a plan in place, we’re in this for the long run.”
Carlisle sounded confident in Barnes’ work ethic to achieve such high expectations.
“He’s a relentless worker, he’s been in the gym all summer,” Carlisle said. “I’ve spent an awful lot of time with him in the gym in many places, not the least of which was Ames, Iowa when we signed him in July, as I spent four days there, where he’s from, and that was great, and we were in the gym twice a day. So a guy like him with his kind of ability and work ethic is going to continue to get better.”