We all know Dirk Nowitzki – the legendary NBA star who played for just one team – the Dallas Mavericks – for an incredible 21 years.
On April 9, after scoring 30 points in a match against the Phoenix Suns, Nowitzki confirmed the news that fans have long been suspecting – he was officially retiring. The Tuesday night game was indeed the final home game of his career.
Dirk Nowitzki made history as the only player ever to play for a single franchise for 21 seasons. To show their love and appreciation for the 40-year-old, the city of Dallas lit up this display in one of the city’s establishments.
Each number is significant to Nowitzki’s career. 41 represents his player number, and 21 is the number of years that he’s played for 1 team.
The German player’s retirement had been widely anticipated after he suffered an injury in his left foot that caused him chronic pain. The damage was an unintended consequence of a surgery that he had last spring to remove the bone spurs in that ankle.
“I was struggling this year with my foot. That’s no secret. It’s just not there where it needs to be to compete at a high level for 82 games. I felt actually some of the best today, but I’ve got a lot of treatment over the course of the season — pills, injections. It just doesn’t make any sense anymore to keep doing that for another season, even though I’d love to be there,” Nowitzki said after his postgame news conference.
Because of this expected retirement, fans have been treating Dirk Nowitzki to unofficial farewell tours throughout the season. They celebrated his legendary 21 years in the sport with posters and loud cheers for the player, just in case.
The audience chanted “Thank you Dirk! Thank you Dirk,” before the game started last Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center.
During the tribute, a number of videos played on the JumboTron showing Nowitzki’s greatest achievements throughout his long career. This included being the 6th highest scoring player of all time. He also gained the titles of 14-time All-Star and 12-time All-NBA Team member.
Another highlight was when five of his childhood basketball heroes – Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Shawn Kemp, and Detlef Schrempf – walked out to the court to deliver their brief tribute messages.
Nowitzki was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support, but it was the Maverick’s touching tribute video shown after the first quarter that really hit home. The player began crying as his philanthropic side – which he did his best to keep private – was revealed in the clip.
Unbeknownst to most people, Nowitzki was highly-involved in charity work throughout his career. Every holiday season, he visits patients at the Children’s Medical Center to bring them gifts. He also makes it a point to never allow news cameras in while he’s visiting.
According to Keri Kaiser, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Experience Officer for the hospital:
“He shows up with such a whole heart. His empathy is amazing. He is humble. He is genuinely there to do whatever it takes to make that day better for that child and family.”
Dirk Nowitzki is truly a legendary man, not just in the court, but in life as well.
Take a peek into the basketball player’s “secret” life as a philanthropist in the video below.
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