Dirk Nowitzki was mum all season on his future plans but after a rousing performance in the Dallas Mavericks’ home finale Tuesday, the star finally announced the decision everyone expected.
“Wow. I’m a little overwhelmed, as you would think,” Nowitzki told the sellout crowd after the Mavericks’ 120-109 victory over the Phoenix Suns. “As you guys might expect, this is my last home game.”
Nowitzki made his much-anticipated retirement announcement after delivering a season-high 30-point performance, with five 3-pointers, against the Suns. The 7-footer scored 10 points in the opening seven minutes and had 19 points on a season-high 18 shot attempts in the first half.
The 14-time All-Star and sixth-leading scorer in NBA history (31,540 points) finished the game with eight rebounds, three assists and a block in a season-high 33 minutes.
The 40-year-old Nowitzki, whose playing career will officially end Wednesday night when the Mavs play the San Antonio Spurs, was honored by the appearance of five of his childhood heroes — Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Shawn Kemp and fellow German Detlef Schrempf — for a postgame ceremony that included heartfelt speeches by Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and owner Mark Cuban.
“Amazing that my heroes came out here for this game,” Nowitzki said. “Thank you guys so much. Love you guys. Grew up watching you and idolizing you guys so this means more than you will ever know.
“Mark, can’t wait to see what you’ve got for my jersey retirement. I mean, this is a high bar that you set. But as you guys might expect, this is my last home game.”
Nowitzki’s final season didn’t actually begin until mid-December thanks to a longer-than-expected recovery from ankle surgery. From there, he mostly came off the bench for the first time in his career and averaged 6.6 points in fewer than 15 minutes a game.
But on this special night, Nowitzki turned back the clock, and so did the crowd as it chanted M-V-P! M-V-P! Nowitzki won the league’s regular-season MVP award in 2007 and earned NBA Finals MVP in 2011, when he delivered Dallas its lone championship.
—Field Level Media