Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on why Larry Bird was better than Dirk Nowitzki: “Larry knew where to be on the court to be the most effective for his team”

Before Luka Doncic was compared to Larry Bird, another Dallas Mavericks star was compared and contrasted with the Boston Celtics legend: Dirk Nowitzki. Both Bird and Nowitzki were hyper-efficient big men who belied their big man stature by being able to space the floor, pass the ball around with aplomb and shoot with deadly precision from the outside. Though some fans might argue that Dirk Nowitzki was on Larry Bird’s level, NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar believes Larry “Legend” was the superior player.

“No way that Dirk Nowitzki is better than Larry, and Dirk is a first-rate โ€” heโ€™s an All-Star,” Kareem told The Dallas Morning News. Absolutely, any time heโ€™s been on the All-Star team, heโ€™s deserved it. But Larry, I think, had more going in terms of leadership.”

Kareem knew Bird quite well on the court, with the two squaring off against one another three times for the NBA Championship in the Finals during the 1980s. Though Bird and the Celtics beat Kareem and the Lakers in 1984, the latter superstar took the next two subsequent outings, with the Lakers beating the Celtics in the 1985 and 1987 NBA Finals games respectively.

Bird won three NBA Championships overall during his 13-year-career.

Nowitzki, on the other hand, won one NBA Finals Championship during his 21-year-career, helping lead the Mavericks to victory over Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat.

Kareem believes that while Nowitzki was certainly an elite scorer, was set Bird apart was he was better all-around, particularly in terms of leadership and on-court knowledge.

Dirk Nowitzki playing for the Dallas Mavericks/NBA YouTube

“If you take the 48 minutes of the game, for every second on that clock, Larry knew where to be on the court to be the most effective for his team,” Kareem continued. “And Dirk doesnโ€™t play the game that way. Heโ€™s a volume shooter. Heโ€™s a streak shooter, and heโ€™s wonderful at that โ€” and heโ€™s had a great career; Iโ€™m not trying to knock him, but Larry is one of a kind.”

Do you agree with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on why Larry Bird was better than Dirk Nowitzki? Which player did you enjoy watching more? Let us know in the comments.

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