Nowitzki closes in on 20,000

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki needs 16 points to join the NBA's elite 20,000-point club. He'll likely hit it Wednesday night at home against the Los Angeles Lakers and 20,000-point-club member Kobe Bryant.

Nowitzki is just 31 years old and he's playing in his 12th NBA season. He'll become the 34th NBA player (and 38th including ABA players) to reach the coveted 20,000-point plateau. Nowitzki holds a player option for 2010-11, which he'll surely exercise to earn $21.5 million next season. Nowitzki has dropped hints that he won't negotiate an extension until after next season and that the possibility always exists for him to simply walk away and finish out his career back home in Germany.

But, there's no reason to believe Nowitzki won't continue playing in the NBA for years to come and for the only franchise he's known since crossing the Atlantic as a scrawny, mop-topped (OK, some things never change) teenager.

"That's huge. I mean for a guy who started playing basketball in Germany and to play at the highest level and say that you’re going to have over 20,000 points for your career if not 30 is very impressive," Jason Kidd said. "That’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

"Everybody knows he can score, but to do it the way he’s done it, every night he’s been consistent. That’s what a veteran guy and a professional, an All-Star and MVP, that’s what Dirk brings to the table."

Nowitzki said Tuesday that reaching 20,000 points is unbelievable and that most of us reporter types probably doubted he could even score 1,000 when he first started. But, Nowitzki still has the ultimate team prize in his eyes.

"That’s pretty amazing how far I got in 12 years. But my main goal now is to win a championship, and I think all the individual goals will be nice once my career is over," Nowitzki said. "I can look back and [say I] scored this many points, I got an MVP, all that is nice, X-amount of All-Star games, all that is sweet, but as for now it doesn’t mean that much to me. I’m still trying to chase my dream, and that’s winning the championship. All that other stuff is great once my career is over."