The power forward position changed during the late 1990s. As Karl Malone was finishing his Hall of Fame career, two fantastic fours entered the league and started the debate: Who is the G.O.A.T power forward?
Tim Duncan was first. San Antonio tabbed him with the No. 1 pick in 1997 and … you know the story from there. In short: 15 All-NBA selections, five championships and two league MVPs.
Not to be outdone by their Texas rival, the Mavericks had a 7-foot ace of their own hiding up their sleeve. Dirk Nowitzki arrived in 1998 and quickly found his footing as one of the league’s top talents.
Over the next two decades, those two battled for Western Conference supremacy and wrangled for the title of not only the best power forward, but the best overall big man. Now, years after retirement, they’re both a part of the Panini America family.
Duncan is a recent addition, and the Hall of Famer’s arrival was no small story. The San Antonio legend signed with Panini in October 2023, marking the first time in nearly two decades that Duncan’s autographs will be found on trading cards.
Beautiful cards featuring penmanship from Tim Duncan are scheduled to arrive early in 2024 inside the highly anticipated Crown Royale program.
His post-playing peer, on the other hand, is no stranger to Panini cards. Nowitzki, the Mavericks’ all-time leading scorer, has been with the company since before he won Finals MVP honors in 2011.
No matter how many battles on the blocks these two shared, they are now teammates in the trading-card world. Even during their days as foes, there was never any ill will.
“Definitely a lot of respect,” Duncan said of Dirk in 2015. “I respect that he’s been [in Dallas] the entire time, how hard he works. … We are both very fierce competitors and we want the best for our team.”
In a 2021 interview with The Dallas Morning News, Nowitzki said Duncan was the toughest player he faced. “He was so skilled,” said No. 41. “He’s a great rebounder, great defender, was really low key and I don’t think he gets talked about enough because he’s such a low-key guy and never loved the limelight.”
Those Hall of Famers will have no problems being teammates in packs of trading cards.
As for the question of who is the G.O.A.T power forward? That’s for you to decide and ponder as you rip open packs of Panini basketball cards in 2024 and beyond.
We’ll leave you with this: