November 12, 2014 / 5:19 AM / 4 years ago

Nowitzki passes Olajuwon as top international scorer

Nov 11, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at American Airlines Center. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Dirk Nowitzki became the highest-scoring non-U.S. born player in the National Basketball Association on Tuesday, passing Hakeem Olajuwon with a 23-point performance as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Sacramento Kings 106-98.

The 7-foot (2.13 meter) German finished the game with 26,953 career points, also moving to ninth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

Nigeria-born Olajuwon compiled 26,946 points over an 18-year career.

Nowitzki’s performance came as the Mavericks rallied from a 24-point deficit to beat the Kings.

The 36-year-old has been a top player in an era when a flood of international talent has joined the ranks of a league traditionally dominated by American players.

The NBA had 38 international players when he entered the league in 1998, and now has 101 from 37 countries and territories.

Nowitzki, who was selected ninth in the 1998 draft by the Milwaukee Bucks before being immediately traded to Dallas, is a 12-time All-Star who was awarded the league’s most valuable player award for the 2006-07 regular season.

Reporting By Cameron French; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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