Dirk Nowitzki is already considered the best player to wear a Mavericks jersey and on Wednesday, January 5, his place in franchise history will be immortalized when his number 41 takes the rafters of the American Airlines Center.
In 21 seasons, Nowitzki has won everything there is to win, lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2011, where he was named Finals MVP, MVP of the year in 2007, 14 All-Star selections, 12 All-NBA selections. , including four First Team honors, as well as being one of only nine players in NBA history who joined the club 50-40-90 (2007).
Before his jersey retirement, the franchise icon looked back on his incredible career and described his time in Dallas as a “dream” after coming to town as a child in 1998, when the Mavs drafted him with the No. 9 pick. of the general. in the NBA Draft.
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“You know me, I am a quiet, modest and shy guy, and of course that is a big center of attention for me,” Nowitzki said in a conference call with international media last month.
“Of course it is very humiliating that when I first left Germany as some kind of 19/20 year old boy who more than 20 years later would have had all these things in Dallas, I would have said that you are absolutely crazy, this is never going to It happened. So, it was a dream. It was a dream career that worked very well for me, to be able to stay in a city and be part of this community for so long and part of this organization.
“It is a dream come true that now how many people have approached me after my career and have told me that they respect and appreciate what I have done for the city, for the sport and for the organization, and of course that makes me super proud .
“I went to a Mavs game the other day and turned right onto Nowitzki Way. That’s still surreal. It’s surreal to look at that, look at my own street, and finally see the jersey under the roof and also one day, I’m not. I’m sure when, but I see the statue in front of me. I mean, I’m very proud of all the work, of course, that I put in and the number of people who have obviously helped me get to this point.
“I am very excited about what is to come in the coming months and years.”
“That is special.” – Dirk on his relationship with Mavericks fans.
– NBA (@NBA) January 4, 2022
Nowitzki’s loyalty to the franchise has made him an icon in the city, with his 21 seasons as Maverick, an NBA record for the longest term in its entirety with a team, ahead of Kobe Bryant (20 seasons, Lakers), Tim Duncan (19 seasons, Spurs) and Udonis Haslem (19 seasons, Heat).
He is only the fourth player in Mavs history to have the jersey retired, along with Derek Harper, Brad Davis and Rolando Blackman, an accolade he describes as “special.”
“That’s a special night. I’m sure they’re going to surprise me with some things,” Nowitzki said. “I’m sure great, great things and some great surprises are going to happen, that I don’t even want to know before.
“It’s going to be overwhelming. I’m not very excited off the court, but on things like that I tend to get a little excited, like on the street naming where it took me a couple of minutes to get there. I’m sure it will be overwhelming.
“But it’s going to be a lot of fun seeing everyone, and I hope everyone can come, that has been a part of my career for so long and it has helped me at some point. It will be a night where I will be extremely grateful to everyone who has. been part of my career “.
Nowitzki’s place in NBA history is already immortalized as one of the greatest international players the league has ever honored. Earlier this year, he was one of six international players included in the NBA 75, a list of the top 75 players in league history.
“Of course, I am incredibly honored to have been named on the list,” Nowitzki said. “As you know, it is very difficult to make that list, to choose players from a list that basically has players of whatever it is, since the league began to exist.
“It’s difficult to compare players from different eras, so I think it was extremely difficult to find 75 guys. I made a little list for myself just to see what it is like and how difficult it is, and it was extremely, extremely difficult.
“But I feel very honored and blessed that people voted for me for that, and so I was very excited. I think I was very proud to be on that list with the best who have played in our sport and have represented the NBA. It was a very proud moment when I saw the final list. “
Dirk talks about how to inspire international players and watch them thrive in the NBA today.
– NBA (@NBA) January 4, 2022
- Career averages: 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds on .471 / .380 / .879 divided shots
- Mavericks all-time leading in minutes played with 51,368 (3rd in NBA history)
- Mavericks all-time leading in total points with 31,650 (sixth in NBA history)
- Mavericks all-time leading in games played with 1,522 (4th in NBA history)
- Mavericks all-time rebounding leader with 11,489
- Mavericks all-time leading in blocks with 1,281
- 14-time NBA All-Star
- 12 times All-NBA (4x First team, 5x Second team, 3x Third team)
- NBA Champion 2011
- 2011 NBA Finals MVP