Dirk Nowitzki made his splash into the NBA record books last Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns. Coming off the bench with 3:27 left in the first quarter in Phoenix, Nowitzki made his presence felt quickly. A 15-foot jumper that hit nothing but window and net. It wasn’t his classic, off of one foot, fadeaway jumper. This time, it was a fadeaway with both feet on the floor.
Nowitzki’s patented high release and arc had the orange finding the glass with a tasty little kiss on the cheek before finding the bottom of the nylon. Just 46-seconds into his 2018-19 regular-season debut, Dirk cashed in. The bucket officially marked the beginning of his 21st season with the Dallas Mavericks. No other player in the history of the Orange Roundball League has played 21 seasons for one franchise. Truly extraordinary.
One player does come extremely close. Kobe Bryant donned the Purple and Gold for 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant poured every ounce of his blood, sweat, and tears on the floor during his tenure in Tinseltown. The Black Mamba’s remarkable career had him lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy a handful of times, winning five NBA championships. Kudos to Kobe, but one man now stands alone in NBA lore.
Dirk didn’t see the hardwood until December 13th because of injury. In April, Mr. Nowitzki had surgery to remove bone spurs from his left ankle. The future Hall of Famer was due to start the season after recovery, but tendon soreness had Dirk rehabbing throughout the course of the Mavericks first 26 games of the regular-season.
After the record-setting game versus the Suns, the 40-year-old said, “It is good to be back. Obviously, I got a lot of work to do timing-wise, conditioning-wise. I have been running on a treadmill, which is not the same as playing NBA speed against a bunch of 20-year-old athletes.”
The 7-foot-0 and 245 pound German old-man wonder will likely hang up his sneaks along with his No. 41 Mavericks’ jersey at season’s end. Without a doubt, that jersey will soon be hanging from the rafters of American Airlines Center.
Hats off to Dirk, my friends. The 13-time NBA All-Star, 2007 league MVP, 2011 NBA Champion, and Finals MVP is as loyal as they come. Yes, indeed. Twenty-one years as the heart of Dallas. You’ve been blessed, Mark Cuban. The highest-scoring foreign-born player the league has ever seen, Nowitzki is now seventh on the all-time scoring list with 31,189 points and counting. Wow.
My wife, my father-in-law, and a wonderful friend from high school call Nowitzki their favorite player ever. He’s definitely one of my top five faves, and he’s my No. 1 class act. Thank you, Dirk, for allowing us to witness your unforgettable career.