Dirk Nowitzki joins the 30,000 club on his signature fadeaway

Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki joined elite company last night as he crossed one of the most exclusive NBA milestones - the 30,000 points club:

Dirk fittingly laced his signature fadeaway with Larry Nance Jr draped over him to cross the milestone. As much as Celtics fans appreciate seeing the Lakers on the other side of Nowitzki's infamous weapon, it's also sort of fitting for the longtime Mav as he's spent his entire career battling some great Laker teams - he fought the Shaq/Kobe teams in the early 2000s and the Kobe/Gasol/Odom installments years later, so he's had his fair share of wars with them.

It's been a long road for Nowitzki to get to this point, he's been in the league for nearly 20 years (same draft class as Paul Pierce, '98) and it took both his excellence and longevity be able to reach this level. Just take a look at the other names listed in the exclusive 30k club the he finds himself a part of, some of the greatest players to ever play the game:

Nowitzki has played on some really good Mavericks teams throughout his tenure, but more often than not the Mavs front-office whiffed when trying to surround him with top-tier talent. They allowed Steve Nash to leave for Phoenix in free-agency where he ultimately played the best basketball of his career recording back-to-back MVP seasons. Even still Dirk carried his team to the NBA Finals twice, both times facing the Miami Heat. In the first battle a near prime Shaquille O'Neal and a blossoming Dwyane Wade were too much for Dirk and company to overcome, but in 2011 Nowitzki got his revenge by thwarting the Heat's newly formed "Superteam" in their first title effort. He get's extra points for stopping that team in my opinion, but have a look at the other obstacles he faced on the road to that title:

That's quite a gauntlet to run through and Dirk paved the way leading his team with 27.7 points and 8.1 rebounds while shooting 48.5% from the floor and a ridiculous 46% percent from three. Although the Mavs didn't actually play the Spurs that year they did beat the team that beat Tim Duncan, so I'm counting it.

I've always enjoyed watching Nowitzki play, as he's one of my favorite non-Celtics that I've had the privilege to watch for the last 20 years. His smooth shooting stroke coupled with his endless arsenal of offensive moves always make Mavs games a joy to watch. Everytime Dirk played the Celtics he seemed unstoppable, and apparently my memory serves me correctly because he's been better against the C's than any other team in the NBA:

Good thing we've only had to play him twice a year. Dirk spoke after the game last night and of course shared his accomplishment with everyone who's helped him along the way. Via Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post:

“Obviously every milestone makes you reflect a little bit, reflect on people who helped you, who have been with you all this way, from the coaches to Cuban and all the teammates I had and fans who went with me through thick and thin,” Nowitzki told reporters.

“It’s been an amazing ride, and hopefully a couple more baskets coming, and then it’s time to ride off into the sunset.”

What an amazing achievement for a guy who's ridden out his entire career for a single team through the good times and the bad. Mavs fans clearly share the same level of adoration for Dirk as Celtics fans have for Paul Pierce. Two guys that came into the league together way back in 1998 became 1st-ballot Hall of Famers that along with all their individual accolades both brought their teams a championship along the way.

Related: Class of 98: Paul Pierce vs Vince Carter

Photo Credit - Mavs.com

Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAL401