DALLAS (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki wiped a tear as his No. 41 rose slowly above the court not far from the podium where the franchise icon for the Dallas Mavericks had held it together through a 20-minute speech until it was time to thank the fans.
“I almost made it through without getting emotional,” Nowitzkisaidmomentsbefore the banner-raising finale of the ceremonytoretirehisnumber after his old team’s 99-82 victory over Golden State on Wednesday night. “But you guys get me every time.”
The concourse of Dirk Nowitzki’s old home arena displayed memorabilia that fans lined up to see, and waited in some cases even longer to buy his jersey. They chanted “MVP! MVP!” just about every time they saw him, live or on the video boards above the court, all night.
The Mavericks were honoringNowitzkinearlythree years after he announced his retirement on the court at the American Airlines Center after the final home game of the 2018-19season.Heplayed 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 appearancefiveyearsbefore that. The big German changed thegameasthebest7-foot shooterfrom3-pointrange.
Eight players from that title team, including current Mavericks coach Jason Kidd, attended the ceremony. Kidd spoke along with Commissioner Adam Silver and owner Mark Cuban, the one-time season-ticket holder who Nowitzki remembered from his first two seasons before Cuban bought the team in 2000.
That was after Doncic had scored 26 points to lead the MavericksoverStephenCurry and the Warriors, who went into the game with the NBA’s best record and are now tied at 29-8 with Phoenix.
Cuban unveiled a miniature preview of that statue, which will commemorate Nowitzki’s signature one-legged fadeaway jumper. There are already silhouettes of the shot on each end of Dallas’ home court.
“This is because of who you are, what you’ve done and wealwayswanttorecognize greatness,” Cuban said.
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.
The 2007 NBA MVP and 2011 Finals MVP is the fourth Dallas player to have his number retired after Brad Davis, Rolando Blackman and DerekHarper.
“You’re somebody who’s been a pioneer for international players,” Silver said. International players usedtobesomethingdifferent in this league.”