Two legends of the game just wrapped up their last All-Star weekend in Charlotte on Sunday. Neither of them looked as young and spry as they did in the 2006 NBA Finals, but they still have some tread left on their tires. In just a few minutes of play, Dirk splashed three 3-pointers as he went 3-for-3 from the arc. Dwyane Wade turned back the clock as he lobbed an alley-oop pass to LeBron James, reliving his time with James in Miami and Cleveland. Wade also received a pass from LeBron in which he converted with a dunk. Dirk and Dwyane looked as if they both persuaded Father Time to rewind a little bit, and allow them to showcase why they are two of the greatest to ever do it. The big question is, who has had the better career?
Making a case for Wade in this case isn’t hard. I’m sure everyone and their goldfish credit Wade with being a top-3 shooting guard of all-time. A career 22 PPG scorer along with around 5 RPG and 5 APG, he has proven that he is an all-around talent that can perform under any and all conditions. The attribute that may set Wade apart, is his defensive ability, and most notably, his ability to block shots. Ask anyone that knows basketball in the slightest, and they’ll tell you that Wade is one of the best, if not the best, shot blocking guards the league has ever seen. With Wade, it’s not the amount of defense he plays, it’s the plays he makes on defense that mean the most. His clutch defensive plays have been a staple in his career in the league, and many players around the league have fallen victim Flash, and his defensive prowess.
As far as championships go, Wade has three in total, as well as one NBA Finals MVP trophy to go along with them. His championship in 2006, when he beat the Mavs, was a legendary finals performance in which he averaged 34.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 3.8 APG as well as 2.7 SPG. A young Wade came onto the scene as a force to be reckoned with, as he proved himself as an elite competitor in the league. His time with LeBron and Bosh was one of the most entertaining and mesmerizing times this league has seen. The two championships they won as a team were met with a lot of heat, no pun intended, as people around the league were upset with the fact that there was a superteam formed in South Beach. In today’s league, you’re not a contender unless you have a superteam. All-in-all, Wade has proven to be an all-time great, and is a no doubt first ballot hall-of-famer.
21 seasons with the Mavericks is a ridiculous amount of time dedicated to one franchise. This season he passed Kobe as the longest tenured player with one franchise. Nowitzki is one of the greatest power forwards to ever play the game, with 13 All-Star appearances and an NBA championship that may mean more to him than any other championship means to anyone else. Dirk has never been the most athletically inclined player on the floor, but he’s always one of the smartest on the court. His secret weapon that many can do, but it seems only he has perfected, is the fadeaway one-legged jumper from mid-range. It seems to be one of the most unblockable and undefendable shots in NBA history, and he’s made his living off of it.
A career 21 PPG scorer, while also nabbing 7.6 RPG, Dirk hasn’t always needed the best stats to prove he’s an elite player. His 2006-07 year was one for the books, as he won the NBA MVP with averages of 24.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 3.4 APG while also leading the Mavs to the first seed in the West with 67 wins. Maybe Nowitzki’s most notable accomplishment, winning the 2011 NBA Finals, was a staple in his illustrious career. Beating the LeBron lead superteam of the Miami Heat while being a huge underdog may be one of the best Finals stories of them all. Finally, after all his hard work and dedication to the Mavericks organization, Dirk won one for Cuban and Dallas. It didn’t take a superteam, it just took a team that was super dedicated.
Although Dirk has one of the most meaningful championship wins under his belt, I don’t think many people in the league today have put together a career and portfolio quite as good as Dwyane Wade has. Dwyane has had the better career due to iconic and game-altering plays that he has made throughout his time in the league. There’s no doubt that they’re both first-ballot hall-of-famers, but Wade edges Dirk out in the all-time conversation.