It’s been a long journey in my fandom of Dirk Nowitzki—11 years to be exact. I can still remember the final game in 2011 when the Dallas Mavericks became NBA champions. I was proud of the whole team, and I was proud of Nowitzki for leading them there.
When Nowitzki publicly announced his retirement from the NBA in his last home game against the Phoenix Suns on April 9, I was devastated. In this past season, several teams and their fans were saying goodbye to Nowitzki and congratulating him on his 21 seasons in the NBA.
What annoyed me was that this was happening without him announcing his
retirement; it felt like they were telling him it was time to retire. The media questioned Kevin Durant because he didn’t say anything to Nowitzki, but Durant said that when he officially announced his retirement, he will say goodbye. I agreed with Durant.
In the past few seasons it became evident to me that it was time for Nowitzki to retire. He wasn’t playing like he used to; he was getting old. But this season, when he came back from his injury, I felt like he was improving. His defense wasn’t great, but he made up for it offensively. Nowitzki was not on the starting lineup in the beginning of the season but acquired more minutes as the season went on and was once again a starter.
In his last season, he averaged 7.3 points per game. He had a 35.9 field goal percentage, a 31.2 3-point percentage and a 78-free-throw percentage. In his last games, he scored 30 points against the Suns and obtained his last double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds against the Spurs.
I believe if everyone didn’t assume Nowitzki was going to retire this season, he probably wouldn’t have. He might have gone for another season. If he did, the Mavericks would have had Luka Doncic, Nowitzki and Kristaps Porzingis in their starting lineup for the 2019-20 season. Although it’s upsetting this won’t be the case, I’ve come to accept it.
I don’t speak for the whole “Mavericks Fans For Life,” but I think we are all grateful and say “thank you” to him for the commitment and dedication Nowitzki has had for Dallas. For the NBA, he has changed the game for taller players by proving they can also be 3-point shooters, and big guys don’t always have to stay near the basket. For me, he has allowed me to have a deeper love for basketball. Nowitzki is the main reason why I love to watch, study and write about basketball.
I have a goal of one day writing for the Dallas Mavericks. It saddens me that I will never be able to write for them with Nowitzki playing for them, but I am grateful for being able to grow up watching him play. Sometimes I think about how I was never able to watch some of the great players, those that Nowitzki admired, players like Wilt Chamberlin and Larry Bird, who were at Nowitzki’s last home game. I can say that Nowitzki was my favorite basketball player, and I was able to admire the way he played the game.
Although Nowitzki has retired, the Mavericks have Luka Doncic, who in just his rookie season has proved he will be one of the greatest players in a few years. And even though this is the end for Nowitzki, I know it’s not the end for the Dallas Mavericks. I will continue pursuing my goal to write for them and remain a huge MFFL. Once again, thank you, Dirk.