DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki will be the 41st of the Mavericks forever …
The Dallas Mavericks paid the highest tribute to which any of their players can aspire, the retirement of their number, the greatest player in their history and one of the greatest of all time in an area recognized internationally for their sport, Dallas-Fort Worth.
“Dirk lives up to, or maybe even higher than, legendary legends in this city,” said former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, a three-time Super Bowl winner and NFL Hall of Famer. “An example to follow inside and outside of sport in all aspects.”
Nowitzki’s franchise records are nearly all any basketball player can aspire to, and some that many don’t even know exist. But the most important was the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 Finals; the only ones that have crowned the Mavericks in their history.
Nowitzki played all 21 seasons of his NBA career with Dallas, where he reached 17 years of age. He retired after the 2018-19 season with 1,522 games played in the regular season, 20.7 average points per game, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
He was named All-Star 14 times and All-NBA 12 times, as well as part of the NBA’s 75th anniversary Ideal Team, of which he was the Most Valuable Player in the 2006-07 season.
“It was a wonderful journey that I never thought would go this far when I was drafted in the June 1998 draft,” Nowitzki said. “There were so many gyms, so many arenas. Whenever we came to a city we saw all those tributes, those withdrawn numbers and we heard anecdotes about those who had played there, those who had withdrawn …”.
“Now mine is one of them. I came young and I got old,” he joked.
It was a magical night, beginning with the Mavericks’ improbable 99-82 win over the Golden State Warriors, and the entire night was filled with memories of Nowitzki’s career and many anecdotes from his former teammates.
“Dirk was the best and humblest of teammates,” said former Puerto Rican Mavericks player José Jua Barea, who was a teammate for most of his career and was in the arena for the tribute. “He was always my favorite partner. Always super fun. He made us all better.”
It was a very emotional night in which Nowitzki relived the glory days of the Mavericks even in the feelings of new players and figures like Luka Doncic.
“I have a long way to go,” Doncic said in a video message. “It is impossible to think that one day I will be able to reach their heights.”
Nowitzki thanked everyone in the Mavericks organization, from owner Mark Cuban, to former coach Don Nelson, who was his first coach in Dallas. Also to the almost 200 teammates he had during his time in the franchise, especially the 2011 champions.
“Without you I would have always been missing something,” Nowitzki said. “We had the time of our lives. It was something that will unite us forever.”
And of course, he thanked Holger Geschwindner, his lifelong coach, who took him from being a boy who was a basketball fan to the best player the Mavericks have ever had and, for many, the best foreigner to ever step on the basketball court. the NBA.
“No one had ever played 21 years on the same team,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who was at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas on Wednesday. “An icon of the League and an example for international players. You changed the way international players came and played in the League. You opened the doors of the world for the NBA.”
Cuban revealed the mock-up of what will be the Nowitzki statue in the sand, in which he said that they will also stamp the German’s name on the floor so that all players wearing the Mavericks jersey are aware of the parameter he established.
Nowitzki’s guests were former NBA players like Tony Parker; former Cowboys Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Tony Romo and Emmitt Smith, as well as former Ranger Michael Young.
“But I especially want to thank all the fans who supported me even in the worst of times and in the worst defeats,” said 43-year-old former German player Dirk Nowitzki.