Adam Silver thought it was obvious. Forty-year-old Dirk Nowitzki is playing his 21st NBA season for the Dallas Mavericks, and he has looked like someone who’s spent two decades playing this rigorous sport. It’s the reason why the NBA commissioner made both Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade special roster additions to the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.
Wade has already announced that he’d retire after the season, and Silver figured Nowitzki would join him.
“I saw him painfully running up and down the court,” Silver said of Nowitzki during All-Star Weekend, “and I think it was clear that this was going to be his last season.”
That has been the case everywhere Nowitzki has gone. The surefire first-ballot Hall of Famers has received tons of tributes and standing ovation in road arenas this season. It’s as if everyone is writing the end to his story without his input.
Before the 2015-16 season, Nowitzki said he wanted no part of a farewell tour of any kind, that announcing his retirement a year prior was “the worst thing that he could think about.” Now, in the middle of the going-away party he never asked for, Nowitzki is leaving the door open for one more year.
“I’d love to be there for the young guys one more year, but I think it depends on how the body feels,” he said, via ESPN’s Tim McMahon. “I’ve had some issues, obviously, this year. … But like I said, I am feeling better. I am feeling a little stronger.
“I think I’m going to make that decision later on, but I think the future’s bright.”
Fanbases have celebrated Dirk’s retirement left and right
The Mavericks gave Nowitzki a tribute in his first game home, followed by his home fanbase giving a rousing ovation.
That was only the beginning.
The entire city of Boston stood up to cheer him on
Gordon Hayward threw this picture on Twitter just because:
So did New York City
Doc Rivers took the mic at Staples Center, and made Clippers fans cheer Nowitzki
The Jazz cheered him on
A funny thing happened when Dirk Nowitzki drilled a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter that cut Utah’s lead to just three points — he heard cheers.
In fact, the Dallas veteran heard those for much of the night.
They came when he was introduced in the Maverick’s starting lineup. He heard them when he made back-to-back buckets in the first and, really, every other time he made a shot in his 6-of-14 performance.
Wade and Nowitzki traded jerseys
And of course, there was All-Star Weekend
But what if this actually isn’t the end of Nowitzki’s NBA career
Nowitzki is playing more minutes now than he was earlier in the season.
He’s played more than 20 minutes in each of his past three games. Prior to that, he hadn’t played more than 18 minutes all season. Nowitzki said he wasn’t physically able to play a heavier load, but he says he’s in better shape now than he was before.
“I feel like I have a little more pep in my step,” he said, via ESPN. “My legs and my wind are a lot better than [earlier in the season]. I just feel better overall. I feel like I can actually contribute, whereas earlier I was struggling just to get up and down.”
This NBA season is coming to a close on April 12, but Dallas’ legend just might have a little more left in the tank, if anything, to mentor Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic as they take the reins of the franchise moving forward.
And if Nowitzki does stay one more year, well, that’s kinda awkward.