Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest player in the history of the Dallas Mavericks to this point. A legend on and off the court, he carried the team to their first and only NBA championship, while achieving many other accomplishments along the way.
On Thursday afternoon, NBA insider Marc Stein reported that Nowitzki’s No. 41 jersey will finally be retired by the team this season. The official ceremony will occur on Jan. 5 when the Mavs host the Golden State Warriors.
Nowitzki will be the fourth player in Mavericks history to get his jersey number retired, joining Derek Harper (No. 12), Brad Davis (No. 15) and Rolando Blackman (No. 22).
Additionally, outside of the jerseys that hang in the American Airlines Center, Mavs owner Mark Cuban retired No. 24 in Dallas to honor former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in January of 2020.
“Our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick,” said Cuban the day after the tragic event.
What did Nowitzki mean to Dallas?
Nowitzki is the best player in Mavericks history, but also one of the top players in the history of the NBA. Arguably the best power forward in league history, he spent all 21 of his NBA seasons in Dallas, setting a record for any player with one team. Additionally, he holds the record for most minutes played in a Dallas uniform with 51,368 in his career.
When looking at the modern NBA, Nowitzki played a big part in stretch forwards becoming so popular. He was truly ahead of his time, knocking down 3s as a 7-footer and scoring away from the basket as a big.
A one-time MVP and 14-time All-Star, Nowitzki is the Mavericks’ 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). In what has been a pretty stellar franchise in the history of the NBA, this is incredibly impressive.
Nowitzki was recently honored by being named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, which is no surprise for a player of his caliber. He retired after the 2018-19 season, finishing his career with averages of 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 33.8 minutes per game.
The retirement of Nowitzki’s jersey was never in question, it was simply about when it would happen. Roughly ten years after winning a title in Dallas, it’s set to officially happen.
Now 43 years old, the ninth overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft is still close to the game of basketball. During the offseason, Nowitzki had the opportunity to take a role in the Dallas front office, with the initial task of hiring of both a general manager and head coach as well as consult on other front office decisions.
Now, his former Mavericks teammate in Jason Kidd is running the team as the head coach. Dallas has done a great job in bringing some of their best players to continue improving the state of the franchise.
Serving as a special advisor to the franchise, Nowitzki gave insight into how he got offered this role.
“Mark Cuban approached me about a role as special advisor and I am happy to support my Mavs,” said Nowitzki. “Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle were both mentors and played huge roles in my career and the success of this franchise, and I am going to miss them. It is important for me now to join Mark and contribute as much as I can as we move forward.”
The most important player in the history of the Mavericks is continuing to make an impact. With that in mind, the next rising star in Luka Doncic is on his way to potentially surpassing Nowitzki as the best player in franchise history.