Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour isn’t doing much for the Lakers record, but it’s been a hit with fans hoping to honor the Lakers great. Tonight the tour gets a special guest in LA: Dallas Mavericks star and certain Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki lines up against Bryant of the 50th time in a regular season game. It will also be the last. Kobe v. Dirk shows Bryant with a 32-17 regular season advantage in the win column. Bryant has averaged 25.5 points per game against the Mavs during that time, while Nowitzki notched 22.8 and grabbed about three rebounds more in each game.
In their careers, Bryant and Nowitzki have combined for nearly 62,000 points. But the best thing about the Nowitzki-Bryant matchup is that you can use Mavs interchangeably with Nowitzki because they mean the same thing. (“Bryant has averaged 25.5 points per game against the Mavs.”) And same goes for the Lakers and Bryant. In an NBA where coaches get fired for winning a lot, and players rarely finish their careers where they started them, Nowitzki and Bryant are special superstars — like Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, and Bill Russell — in having long, one-team careers. They are synonymous with their teams and that makes their 50th matchup extra special.