I had a few requests and inquires about a segment on WWZN yesterday with Cedric Maxwell talking about Dirk Nowitzki and Larry Bird. To clarify, the conversation was pretty light hearted, it did not get heated like the transcript from yesterday. Here’s the entire segment:
Billy Fairweather: Hey Max, Set the record straight because I had somebody in the hallway here tell me just a moment ago that you thought that Dirk Nowitzki was such a great player, he might even be better than Larry, and I said there’s no way those words ever came out.
Cedric Maxwell: Yeah, I did.
BF: You did?
CM: I just talked to Jerry Stackhouse about that. Not to say he’s a better player, I’m just saying he’s a better athlete, and there’s a lot of things that he can do that Larry Bird wouldn’t be able to do. Now I know that’ssacrilegious, and I might get cut off here by Eddie
Eddie Andelman: No you wouldn’t, because Larry couldn’t run as well as Nowitzki
CM: That’s my basic premise. Now this kid, he’s seven foot one, he has better foot speed, just as good a jump shot, if not better, he’s probably a better rebounder than Larry, umm…he can block shots better. Now Larry Bird was just a great player, instinctively. Now, is Dirk better physically than Larry? Yes, I still think if you had to pick between the two, and you had a physical specimen on the side and they were playing, I think you would pick Dirk. But from a purely basketball standpoint, You have to look at another thing about Larry Bird, look at the people that Larry Bird played with. Yes he played and made people better, but Larry Bird also played with guys who are Hall of Famers.
BF: Max, is there a history of memory loss in your family?
CM: No there’s not, now you tell me where I’m wrong.
EA: ah Max, let me ask you the question another way. He certainly can run better than Larry, there’s no question. Rebounding, I don’t think he’s better than Larry, cause Larry got better position. But let me put it to you another way. You’re starting a basketball team tomorrow and you can pick any player other than Russell. Who would be the first guy that you pick, would you pick Nowitzki or would you pick Larry?
CM: No, I wouldn’t pick either one of them. I’d pick Shaq. (laughs all around)
BF: Are you saying Max that if you had the choice to pick between those two guys in their prime?
CM: Yes, if I had my choice in their prime, right now, between the two players, I would take Dirk. I’m not kicking at Larry, Because I think Larry..Larry was one of the greatest players to play the game. But again, If I had just pure physical ability, and if you take it from top to bottom, well, you tell me, what does Larry do better than Dirk does?
EA: I’ll tell you what he does – he leads the team better. His will to win is better, his will to improve his game is better, and I think clutch shooting.
CM: Have I heard you guys say any physical attributes at all?
EA: no, no
CM: Is there anything physically that you can say that Dirk is not better?
EA: No, Max, No one’s going to argue, you couldn’t argue, on who could run better, ah, but Dirk can’t pass as well as Larry, I could tell you of the things that Dirk could do better, but I would take Larry on my team, nothing to do with being a home guy or anything else Max, and I think Nowitzki is a great player, the Celtics as you know, almost had him…
BF: …and may be as close a player as there has been to Larry that’s come along in a long time.
CM: Well, I think, you know what you’re going to get an opportunity to see him tonight. And you’ll get a chance to see what I say. You know one thing that Dirk does, probably a bit better than Larry does is the fact that he does have that foot speed. So what he does, and he’s taller – Dirk Nowitzki is seven foot, probably seven foot one, and he can take you on the outside, and knock down the jump shot, not only can he post you inside, but he can drive by you and get to the basket. Larry had, Larry did not have the foot speed to get past you.
BF: but you know, Larry didn’t get beat down the court too often though, either
CM: Excuse me?
BF: Larry didn’t get beat down the court too often though, either, on either end.
CM: Wait a minute, Did I hear…are you having memory problems?
BF: Are you going to tell me that Larry wasn’t there on the break?
CM: Wait a minute, who do you think was closer out there, me or you? (laughs all around)
BF: Well, look, you know I’m going to concede that to you.
CM: Who do you think was covering Larry’s man from time to time? Who do you think made all-defensive team and I didn’t make all-defensive team? Okay. I’m not kicking at Larry, Larry was a great player, I tease Larry today. But the simple fact is, from a physical standpoint, Dirk is a better player. Now his will, now all the intangibles that you guys are throwing in, makes Larry Bird the better player. But from a physical, from a purely physical basketball…
BF: But Max, that’s not what you’re saying, what you’re saying is that if you were starting a basketball team today, and both guys are in their prime, you’re going to take Nowitzki over Larry Bird.
CM: I’m still saying…
BF: You’re not saying physical,
CM: I’m still saying, no I just told you what he would do, but again, you’re asking me if I’m a GM and I had to pick between the two guys, I’d take Dirk.
Conversation turns to current Celtics team