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Pierce, Nowitzki and Other Single-Team Lifers

Posted by Neil Paine on July 2, 2010

After opting out of his contract and briefly causing panic in New England, Paul Pierce has apparently come to terms with the Boston Celtics in a deal that will keep him in green and white for four more years (and possibly for the remainder of his career). Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki was in New York to meet with various suitors, but he has since made his way to Dallas, and the Mavs are "cautiously optimistic" that he'll be back with them next season, locked in with a long-term deal similar to Pierce's.

It only seems like yesterday when these guys entered the league, but they're actually making impressive progress on the list of all-time leaders for career games played with one (and only one) team:

Player Franchise Games
John Stockton UTA 1504
Reggie Miller IND 1389
John Havlicek BOS 1270
Hal Greer PHI 1122
Kobe Bryant LAL 1021
Joe Dumars DET 1018
Calvin Murphy HOU 1002
Dolph Schayes PHI 996
Alvan Adams PHO 988
David Robinson SAS 987
Wes Unseld WAS 984
Isiah Thomas DET 979
Tim Duncan SAS 977
Kevin McHale BOS 971
Fred Brown OKC 963
Bill Russell BOS 963
Jerry West LAL 932
James Worthy LAL 926
Dirk Nowitzki DAL 920
Tom Sanders BOS 916
Magic Johnson LAL 906
Larry Bird BOS 897
Paul Pierce BOS 884
Mark Eaton UTA 875
Michael Cooper LAL 873

If Pierce plays all 82 games in 2011, he will pass Bill Russell for 3rd on the all-time Celtics list, trailing just John Havlicek and Kevin McHale. And Nowitzki is already Dallas' all-time leader in games played, period, not just among those who spent their entire careers with the Mavs.

But they're not just building their reputations on longevity alone... Pierce and Nowitzki are also among the best of the NBA's all-time single-teamers (1952-present):

Player Franchise G MP PER WS WS/48
John Stockton UTA 1504 47764 21.83 207.70 0.209
David Robinson SAS 987 34271 26.18 178.67 0.250
Reggie Miller IND 1389 47619 18.36 174.40 0.176
Bill Russell BOS 963 40726 18.88 163.51 0.193
Jerry West LAL 932 36571 22.90 162.58 0.213
Tim Duncan SAS 977 35577 25.02 162.31 0.219
Magic Johnson LAL 906 33245 24.11 155.79 0.225
Dirk Nowitzki DAL 920 33732 23.76 150.18 0.214
Kobe Bryant LAL 1021 37366 23.50 145.93 0.187
Larry Bird BOS 897 34443 23.50 145.83 0.203
Bob Pettit ATL 792 30690 25.37 136.05 0.213
John Havlicek BOS 1270 46471 17.53 131.72 0.136
Dolph Schayes PHI 866 29800 21.96 118.69 0.191
Kevin McHale BOS 971 30118 20.02 113.04 0.180
Paul Pierce BOS 884 32936 20.80 112.58 0.164
Wes Unseld WAS 984 35832 16.00 110.08 0.147
Julius Erving PHI 836 28677 21.97 106.24 0.178
Elgin Baylor LAL 846 33863 22.70 104.15 0.148
LeBron James CLE 548 22108 26.86 103.27 0.224
Hal Greer PHI 1122 39788 15.66 102.65 0.124
Paul Arizin GSW 648 24897 19.66 95.06 0.183
Sam Jones BOS 871 24285 18.68 92.29 0.182
Neil Johnston GSW 516 18298 24.72 91.99 0.241
Joe Dumars DET 1018 35139 15.31 86.21 0.118
Calvin Murphy HOU 1002 30607 18.00 84.12 0.132
Dan Issel DEN 718 22342 20.99 82.35 0.177
James Worthy LAL 926 30001 17.73 81.23 0.130
Isiah Thomas DET 979 35516 18.11 80.69 0.109
Cliff Hagan ATL 745 21731 19.50 75.07 0.166
Jack Twyman SAC 823 26147 17.79 75.01 0.138
Willis Reed NYK 650 23073 18.57 74.92 0.156
Alvan Adams PHO 988 27203 18.32 73.47 0.130
Rudy Tomjanovich HOU 768 25714 16.93 70.35 0.131
Dwyane Wade MIA 471 17717 25.67 69.76 0.189
Manu Ginobili SAS 553 15387 21.65 69.48 0.217
Amare Stoudemire PHO 516 17686 22.57 67.93 0.184
Yao Ming HOU 481 15727 23.04 65.66 0.200
Tony Parker SAS 668 22063 18.30 65.50 0.143
Dwight Howard ORL 489 17466 21.69 65.38 0.180
Vern Mikkelsen LAL 567 18443 18.61 65.29 0.170
Brad Daugherty CLE 548 20029 18.85 65.19 0.156
Andrei Kirilenko UTA 617 18990 19.38 63.63 0.161
Zydrunas Ilgauskas CLE 771 21820 18.79 63.38 0.139
Fred Brown OKC 963 24422 17.75 63.19 0.124
Billy Cunningham PHI 654 22406 19.38 63.19 0.135
Chris Paul NOH 345 12881 25.56 62.53 0.233
Chris Bosh TOR 509 18815 21.28 61.84 0.158
Tom Heinsohn BOS 654 19254 17.85 60.00 0.150
Rik Smits IND 867 23100 17.85 56.62 0.118
Tom Sanders BOS 916 22164 11.86 56.55 0.122
Michael Redd MIL 568 19202 19.76 54.96 0.137
Michael Cooper LAL 873 23635 12.81 52.47 0.107
Nate McMillan OKC 796 20462 14.46 50.20 0.118
Mark Eaton UTA 875 25169 10.88 44.78 0.085
Bill Bradley NYK 742 22799 12.20 38.76 0.082
Darrell Griffith UTA 765 21403 14.56 21.97 0.049

We know Pierce will return to Boston, and most experts feel Nowitzki is probably going to be back in Dallas, each for the long haul. But for a while on Thursday, it looked possible that the NBA One-Team Club would lose two of its most notable members.

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10 Responses to “Pierce, Nowitzki and Other Single-Team Lifers”

  1. Ben Says:

    Neil just posted this because Dirk is ahead of Kobe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Just kidding - keep up the great posts.

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    Ha, yeah, that must be it.

  3. Neil Paine Says:

    For what it's worth, Kobe does have a higher career SPM than Dirk, +5.53 to +5.11. So there's at least one metric looking out for you, Kobe.

  4. Kirk Says:

    The big 4 on these lists also have played a ton of playoff games too. TD, Kobe and Dirk are all franchise leaders in playoff games, most likely padding their lead in the near future. Pierce will have to make deep runs in the playoffs for quite a few years to make it to the top of the Celtics list.

  5. Spree Says:

    This seems to happen more in basketball than the other two big sports. I think it's great to see a guy play his whole career for one squad.

    I'm stunned that Hakeem isn't on that list anywhere. I was certain he played his whole career with Houston and would make such a list.

  6. Kirk Says:

    I think all of us have blocked out Hakeem's year with Toronto, or Ewing with Seatle/Orlando, and even Pippen's return to Chicago. But that brings up an interesting point: guys like TD, Kobe, Dirk and Pierce could fall *off* of this list should they leave their teams in the future. They'd still be near or at the top of the franchise records, but "lifer" status can easily be derailed.

  7. MJT75 Says:

    Yes, and we should block out Jordan's Wizards years as well.....

  8. Drew Grant Says:

    I miss the good o'days when there was more than one good big man. Thinking back to the mid-late 90's Ewing, Robinson, Mourning, O'Neal, Olajuwon, and Mutombo days. Seeing Robinson, Olajuwon, and Ewing on this post made me remember.

  9. Drew Grant Says:

    Even Rik Smits was better than most of the centers now.

  10. Jared Ras Says:

    Maybe it's just me and how I feel about regular season and playoff stats being segregated (I understand it because "games" should be out of 82 team games played for each team, not anywhere from 82 to 110 after factoring the postseason), but lists like this seem conducive to combining the regular season and playoffs.

    So Kobe Bryant has 1,021 regular season Lakers games, but he also played for the Lakers in the postseason, of which he has amassed 198 more games. His 1,219 total games may put him higher on the list, especially since Hal Greer only has 1,214 (1,122 + 92) for the Nationals/76ers. If you're actually looking at total games played, the Kobe Bryant-Los Angeles Lakers or Tim Duncan-San Antonio Spurs marriages are much more amazing for considering those championships.

    I wouldn't change the method or anything, and I know it's easier to look up stats for regular season games only, but that's just my piece on how games should be counted.