The greatest player in the history of the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki is finally getting his No. 41 jersey retired. The official ceremony will take place today, following a matchup against the Golden State Warriors in Dallas.
Nowitzki will become the fourth player in Mavericks history to get his jersey number retired and hunt in the rafters at the American Airlines Center, joining Derek Harper (No. 12), Brad Davis (No. 15) and Rolando Blackman (No. 22).
The 7-footer spent all 21 of his NBA seasons in Dallas, setting a record for any player with one team. Nowitzki also holds the record for most minutes played in a Dallas uniform with 51,368 in his career. A one-time MVP and 14-time All-Star, the German forward is the Dallas’ all-time leader in points (31,560), rebounds (11,489), defensive rebounds (10,021), field goals made (11,169), 3-pointers made (1,982), free throws made (7,240), blocks (1,281), games (1,522), starts (1,460) and minutes (51,368).
This will be a jersey retirement that is well deserved and something that Mavericks fans will never forget. Over the past few weeks, Nowitzki has given his thoughts on the big event that will take place today.
When Nowitzki began his rookie season with the Mavericks, nobody knew just how special he would be.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Nowitzki on Tuesday as he reflected on his career. “I wasn’t sure what the NBA would be like. I had only watched it on TV before. Nobody really saw this coming, even my closest supporters. I certainly didn’t. It worked out amazing.”
Not only did he become one of the best power forwards in the history of the league, but he also changed the way the game is played in the modern NBA.
Towards the end of his career, Nowitzki became a mentor to the young players on the team. In fact, during his final season he was able to play alongside a rookie Luka Doncic, who now is the new face of the franchise.
Although Nowitzki knew the end was near for the past few seasons of his career, it was still an extremely emotional time for him. As his jersey gets lifted into the rafters today, he hopes it won’t be as emotional.
“I hope it’s not gonna be as emotional,” said Nowitzki. “They always say an athlete dies twice. To me, that was the hard cut right then and there, even though I was prepared for it for a few years. Tomorrow will still be somewhat emotional.”
Regardless, it will be a sellout crowd for this game against the Warriors as the best player in Mavericks history will be honored and remembered.
Expectations for the Ceremony
It’s no surprise that Nowitzki is excited for the event itself. With all of the memories he’s had in front of Mavericks fans, it will be one last chance to connect with them in one of the most special moments of his life.
“I’m super excited. Ready for this big honor, this big moment,” said Nowitzki on Tuesday. “I wanna thank Mark [Cuban] and the Mavs for making this happen.”
On this big day, Nowitzki will be surrounded by some of the most important people in his life. He’s mentioned his friends and family will be there, but it’s safe to assume former teammates will be in attendance as well.
“My family is here from Germany and a few other friends from all around the world. I just really gotta soak it all in and try to enjoy and really have a blast with the fans and with the people I love,” said the Mavs legend.
Every jersey retirement ceremony is different, which actually makes Nowitzki excited. A guy that loves surprises, even he isn’t sure what all is going to happen at the event.
“I know a little bit of what’s gonna happen, but I still want to be surprised like I always like to be,” said Nowitzki. “I’m sure some of the videos are going to make me somewhat emotional, but I just wanna enjoy and be in the moment and react to the stuff that I see. I’m sure the Mavs have plenty of tricks up there sleeves. I’m really gonna look forward to it and get lost in the moment.”
When asked what moments stick out most to Nowitzki, he mentions how he hasn’t had the chance to truly reflect as much as he would like. As such, the ceremony will take him down memory lane and highlight all of his spectacular accomplishments on and off the course over two decades.
“It’s been super busy even in retirement. I haven’t really had the time to reflect. Of course it was an amazing ride,” said the Hall of Famer. “21 years in the same organization and same city. That has meant a lot to me. I’ll never forget the memories we made along the way. The easiest ones to remember are the championships, the Olympic Games and all the big playoff games. The 30K of course. But there’s so many other things that went into this, all the people that helped you and all the hard work you put in. I look back with pride and with some sort of satisfaction.”
In what should be an unforgettable night, the No. 41 will officially be retired as we remember an NBA legend in Dirk Nowitzki.