No One Who’s Shot More Has Shot Better

DALLAS – The Dirk Nowitzki-Larry Bird comparisons got old a long time ago – different guys, different eras, different responsibilities, same hair color and flesh tone. But finally, after Game 3 of The Finals Sunday at American Airlines Center, there was a legitimate reason to drop their names into the same sentence.

Nowitzki, on a free-throw binge in the 2011 postseason, made all nine of this attempts from the line in Dallas’ 88-86 loss to the Miami Heat. That left him at 154-for-164 (.939) in these playoffs and, more impressive, 948-for-1,064 in his playoff career.

And that nudged him past Bird for the highest free-throw percentage in NBA playoff history among shooters who have had at least 1,000 attempts.

That list isn’t a long one – just 17 players deep – but it’s a select one, featuring some of the greatest players ever (Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor and more). Nowitzki climbed on this spring and, with his flawless foul form Sunday, crept past Bird as the most accurate among this elite group.

Nowitzki’s success rate over 121 lifetime playoff games is .89097. Bird, at 901-for-1,012, sank .89031 of his FTAs.

Other NBA marksmen did better than that in the playoffs – nine, if you go by the league’s minimum requirement of 100 free throws made – but none sustained into quadruple double-digit attempts. The top three in postseason free-throw percentage – Mark Price, .944 (202-for-214); Calvin Murphy, .932 (165-for-177) and Bill Sharman, .911 (370-for-406) – all shot considerably fewer free throws than Bird or Nowitzki.

The Mavericks power forward is 24-for-24 in The Finals through three games, contributing mightily to Dallas’ 64-47 scoring edge from the line (Miami has outscored the Mavs 226-201 in points off field goals).

Seven players in Finals history have shot a perfect 1.000 from the line but none of them attempted more than 13 free throws. Among those who took more, Reggie Miller (.978, 45-for-46 in 2000) and Sharman (.968, 30-for-31 in 1958) were the most accurate. Both Magic Johnson in 1987 and Ray Allen a year ago were 24-for-25, .960. Which Nowitzki can match by missing his next attempt.


  1. The Dude says:

    The box score on NBA.COM actually says that Dirk Nowitzki was 9/10 in free throws made/attempted.

  2. Kuunaavang says:

    There’s no point saying who’s bad and who’s good, I like Dirk, Wade, Lebron, JJ, Kid, hell they are all great players, and they are giving us one of the best finals ever. Its one hot and exciting NBA finals!!!!! GO HEAT GO MAVS show us what you got!!!!

  3. billy says:

    dallas will lose. the game is fixed. lots of syndicates are involved. nowitzki has been pre-paid by miami owner.

  4. “Dosss MINUTOOOS””””””

  5. Smilawn says:

    The buddies left him alone. Dirk is the best player in the 2011 playoffs. but he cannot win the games alone. so if the mavericks wanne have a chance to win the title, THE GUYS HAVE TO PUT THE BALL IN, TOO !!!

  6. DorianJoseph says:

    “Funny how your a jump shooter and get the free throw line so much like your attacking the rim. If the NBA isn’t fixed…….”
    -Dirk has been attacking the rim. All fouls don’t come from the paint, with a fade-away like that… very few can block it, but mostly foul.

  7. karibkween says:

    Miami has performed statistically better than Dallas in each of the categories that count over the last three games. Miami has a better FG%, and more possessions/fewer turnovers, which offset the meager seven rebound margin that Dallas has against them; about the only category Dallas is winning is the FTA-M, where they have an 80-65 advantage over the course of the last three games. The Dallas team is just like New Orleans and Chicago, not enough weapons. The Miami has two bench players who are interchangeable with Jason Terry (Eddie House & James Jones) except neither of them is Miami’s 2nd option.

  8. karibkween says:

    Enough of the Bird/Nowitzki comparisons already, its an insult to Larry Bird.

  9. DIRK MALONE says:

    Karl malone never showed up for big games, nor in the 4th quarter. he is a power forward with great stats, but he was not a great player. Dirk is one of hte best ever in 4th quarter and carrying a team on his back, As much as I respect and love jason Kidd’s play-making ability, Dirk would stand more of a chance if he had John Stockton’s scoring and clutch play to help him over the hump. Just as Stockton could have had a chance aginst Jordan and Pippen if he had someone clutch like Dirk. The media makde Malone out to be a great palyer because they are stat-lovers. People on the street are supposed to know better

  10. JOR-G says:


  11. Daniel Oversta says:

    C’mon people, don’t let your emotions take over. If Dallas wins next game, they will have a great chance to win the championship. Dallas has proven before that they can bounce back, have faith in that.

  12. patrick says:

    again, its still a big thrill ahead. those wins are futile unless they win the finals trophy. that’s what matters most. it is so hard to make that as there is no easy way. it is still a very long stormy way.

  13. Dave Nowitzki says:

    I thought LeBron is the next MJ?Much like the next Scottie Pippen to me..he’s just seccnd in command to Wade, second offensive option..hiding in Wade’s shadow for comfort..i’m sure he’s happy somebody else is carrying the team for him on high-pressure moments.. this guy will not win a championship without Wade.He’s following Pippen’s path. and not Jordan’s….

    • DIRK'S REVENGE!!! says:

      Lebron will REGRET “The Decision” down the road for what you just said …

      He’s gonna realize that Wade and Riley manipulated him into bringing them a title and glory while James will get overshadowed and less credit cause it’s Wade’s team …

      • Wade says:

        lol really? Now I’m a Wade fan, don’t get me wrong, but it’s kinda obvious LeBron can’t get finals MVP in his first year with the heat, Wade is better suited to get it, as the more experienced one, or in case dallas wins, your buddy Dirk. LeBron will get other chances to win a finals MVP if heat get there again, he can only get better for the next couple of years, he’s only 26. That being said, Wade, show them what u got.

    • HeatWave says:

      Lol Lebron has been the front runner for the past two series. Miami wouldn’t have even beat Boston or Chicago without James game five performances. One more game like that though and I’ll say Wade should be the MVP.

  14. bonik. says:

    can someone tell me where is that guy named DIRK’S REVENGE? hahaha. he always had a bad mouth for the HEAT, where he is now? i want to hear from him. why isn’t he replying in all heat fan comments? 🙂

    • DIRK'S REVENGE!!! says:

      I commented here last night but it looks like I am BEING BLOCKED!!!

      Are you the MODERATOR BLOCKING ME!!!!

      DON”T BE A COWARD!!!!

  15. Patrick says:

    I imagine the big three playing in another city, with the Wolves or kings, Cleveland or toronto etc. I think they would get the same result after one year training.

  16. Jaime V. says:

    Even More:

    You cant face a playoffs series with your coach off the game before begun the series like Phil Jackson did or says to the Medias.
    What really annoys me is the way people have been hating the heat taking excuses (Lebron traded). We will see what happen next year when D howard must to take a decision.
    None can win alone by himself.
    Even 90´s Bulls were a totally full team. 80´s Lakers, 80´Celtics. 00´s Lakers.99´Spurs..and on..and on…

    And the thing is not against Lebron. The thing is against Miami city.
    Do you know how much costs us win in 2006? Too much…
    Im not talking about some kind of conspiracy against Miami but some good reasons must lay on

    • HeatWave says:

      I’d be interested to know more about what you mean by cost Miami to win in 06. Can you post a link to some info?

  17. Patrick says:

    Always the same story, if the team loose the game we just say that Nowitzki is not the great player we thought.
    Bad luck for Nowitzki, Terry didn’t help once more. logical loose, they needed two more buckets, but too much confusion in money time for Mav’s. Now they need somebody else to make the job, but no Caron Butler..bad luck. Poor Nowitzki, he tried as usual,( he should play with Wayde or Bosh).
    The big three is getting stronger, and next year I suppose they will be better, to be in final again…

  18. De Mont says:

    Funny how your a jump shooter and get the free throw line so much like your attacking the rim. If the NBA isn’t fixed…….

    • HeatWave says:

      Exactly! And Miami still won!

      • bballwiz says:

        And you, all you’re doing is riding along the heat wave of the Heat. Your players are such whiners and cry babies. Every time James, Wade and Bosh didn’t get the call they want, they react as if the refs are cheating on them. And every time they committed a foul or turnover, they act as if they we’re being accused of murder. As Jeff Van Gundy had pointed, it’s all on the replay! Why do players, especially the Heat players, have to complain so much about the calls? Such pathetic excuse for pro athletes. Just continue playing the game!

        Have you really watched the Finals? Have you seen all the slaps, pushes and shoves this guy gets every game? Miami has thrown everything at him but the kitchen sink. And yet, you still think the game is fixed because he shot a lot of free throws?

    • bballwiz says:

      Funny how the Heat already won the game yet you still found something to throw at the Mavs.

      Seriously? The game is fixed because Dirk had many free throws? You’re not a real fan, man. Just a blind man with an attitude.

      Who’s funny now?

      • DIRK'S REVENGE!!! says:


        That’s why they like this team SO MUCH!!! Same CHALLENGED MENTALITY!!!

  19. bell says:

    I like Dirk, i think his shot is second most un guardable shot ever next to the sky hook of jabbar, and for me one of the best power forwards ever,, but just like the great power forward karl malone, dirk too will retire without any championship ring in his fingers, heat will surely won this series and take home the larry obrien trophy, but this series will be a very good game…

  20. nba says:

    come on man i dont want to hear this dirk better free throw percentage ballony. we here for one thing and one thing only and thats that trophy we lost for goodness sake be very ashamed Steve