The concourse of Dirk Nowitzki’s old home arena displayed memorabilia from the franchise icon’s career as the Dallas Mavericks prepared for a ceremony to retire his No. 41 after a game against Stephen Curry and Golden State.
The Mavericks were honoring Nowitzki on Wednesday night, nearly three years after he announced his retirement on the court at the American Airlines Center after the final home game of the 2018-19 season. He played one more game at San Antonio.
The 43-year-old Nowitzki played a record 21 seasons with the same franchise, beating the late Kobe Bryant’s previous mark of 20 with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history led the Mavericks to their only championship in 2011 and their only other NBA Finals appearance five years before that. The Big German changed the game as the best 7-foot shooter from 3-point range.
People stand in line to buy memorabilia of former Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki before an NBA basketball game between the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. The Mavericks are retiring Nowitzki’s number in a ceremony after the game. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
The accolades aren’t quite finished for Nowitzki, who has part of a street near the arena named after him. Nowitzki said during a news conference a day before the jersey retirement that he had just spent time in Chicago with the artist commissioned for a statue that will stand outside the facility.
When Nowitzki retired, the Mavericks arranged for Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Shawn Kemp and Scottie Pippen to attend the postgame ceremony. This time, one of his teammates from the title team was on the Dallas bench: coach Jason Kidd.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was expected to be among the guests for the jersey retirement along with Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovich, two more players from the championship team.
“I think he’s excited,” Kidd said before the game. “I guess the best way to put it is sometimes when you end your career, you’re always looking for signs of, ‘If I’m doing it right.’ When you really want a sign of you’re doing something right, the biggest sign you can get is when someone retires your number.”
Nowitzki is sixth on the career scoring list with 31,560 points, and the 14-time All-Star also leads the Mavericks in career 3s, rebounds and blocks. He was the 2007 NBA MVP and 2011 Finals MVP.