On the eve of yet another momentous occasion for Dirk Nowitzki, the greatest maverick of all, who has never slammed on his own, said he believes he has done one thing right.
Years ago, he had a feeling there would be one thing above all that he would miss when he retired from the NBA.
“I miss the stuff that I always thought I missed,” he said Tuesday. “The adrenaline rush of doing a big bang, either silencing the crowd – sit down – or giving it a big kick at home and the crowd goes crazy.
“If I watch a shot now and someone plays a big game like that, I kinda feel like I’ll never have that feeling in my life again.” So it hurts a bit. “
In this regard, you have the feeling that Dirk is probably wrong. He has more heroic moments ahead of him. He doesn’t know what they are yet.
No one does.
But what we do know is that Wednesday night will be an emotional night when Nowitzki’s No.41 jersey is hoisted up to the rafters, where it will forever be hung alongside the jerseys of Rolando Blackman, Brad Davis and Derek Harper. .
The ceremony will take place after the Mavericks’ announcement at 6:30 p.m. against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
Nowitzki knows that these kinds of events are not just for him. In a 50-minute press conference on Tuesday, he made sure to thank not only the coaches, former players, friends and family who helped him become the top scorer in NBA history. , but also the workers behind the scenes.
“It’s unfortunate the arena isn’t bigger,” Nowitzki said. “I would love to have more people here. Glad they can be a part of it on TV or live (on mavs.com). There are so many people who have been a part of this trip. It’s going to be sad unfortunately, that not everyone can be here.
Among them are the basketball players who shared Nowitzki’s most triumphant moments, including former coaches Rick Carlisle and Don Nelson and former general manager Donnie Nelson.
Nowitzki didn’t need to be pushed to pay homage to all of them.
“They found me in Germany,” he said of the Nelson’s. “Donnie has always been there for me, basically my entire career. He made sure I was welcomed and felt comfortable from the start.
“And old Nels, with his philosophy, he really helped me get started. It was perfect in his system of shifts and a big guy shooting the ball.
Nowitzki has often wondered what would have happened if his first NBA coach had been more traditional and less innovative than Nellie.
“They would have put me in the weight room, put on 20, 30 pounds, (made me) play a whole different game,” Nowitzki said. “And maybe things don’t turn out the way it ended. I was really lucky to play under Nellie and let me play my game and what I was good at. Both guys have played an important role in my career.
And Nowitzki made a special comment on Carlisle, who left the Mavericks after the 2020-21 season and now coaches the Indiana Pacers.
“I love Rick,” Nowitzki said. “His basketball knowledge was to die for. His X’s and O’s, his attention to detail, he was great. He always supported what I was doing off the pitch too.
“Rick made us champions.”
The interesting part of this quote is that Carlisle once said that it was Nowitzki who made the Mavericks champions.
But the truth is, like virtually everything in the NBA, it was a team effort.
And Nowitzki will always miss it, as will the clutch shots and the locker room joke, of which he was a master.
And his wife, Jessica, has learned that locker room chats are hard to get past.
“I had a lot of fun with my teammates,” Nowitzki said. “In a men’s locker room, nothing is forbidden. I enjoyed this setting for a very long time. Make my teammates feel comfortable that I’m joking with them and not seeing myself as more important. These are the moments that I miss.
“Sometimes I’ll be home and say something to my wife, and she’ll say, ‘It’s not the locker room.’ So I miss the changing rooms from time to time.
What Nowitzki is still not sure of is where the next step will take him in his professional life. He bears the title of “Special Advisor” to the Mavericks. He admitted he wasn’t sure what that meant.
But he is certain of one thing he will not do in the future: training.
“The special advice came because I was not yet ready to be on board,” he said. “I love the Mavs and want to help. But with small children (at home), I wasn’t ready to fully engage and I’m just not there yet.
“Now what the future has in store is kind of all on the table, I guess. (But) coaching is not in my plans. I think it might be fun to work with individual guys like Holger (Geschwindner) did with me.
“But what about team coaching? It’s the last thing I want to do, honestly. Standing there, they’re giving speeches, motivating the guys, and they’re on the phone half the time. I don’t have the patience. I hardly have patience with children. I don’t have the patience to deal with all this nonsense these days. So that one came out. Other than that, I think all options are on the table.
And, in the meantime, there is the subject of more tributes for Nowitzki. It’s a subject that is only slightly more appealing than training the 7ft German.
He knows there’s a statue over there with his name on it. And the only certainty about what that will look like is that it won’t be Nowitzki in a defensive squat.
“I can’t give too much,” he said. “I was a little involved. We took a studio tour in Chicago with the artist a few months ago. I think it’s gonna be super cool. It’s going to be a surprise of what it is, what it looks like. But the artist is amazing. He’s going to do a great job.
And, Nowitzki said, after giving his name to a street outside the building he’s essentially put on the map, the American Airlines Center, and now the jersey retreat, it has to stop somewhere.
“And honestly, this (statue) has to be the last, the last honor, I hope I get. It’s a lot. With the street first, and the jersey. And the statue outside. You know me. That’s a lot of the limelight. But I’ll take advantage of it when that happens too.
All of this, in addition to enjoying his retirement with his wife and children, had a reassuring impact on Nowitzki. He now knows that he has decided to quit at the right time.
“The penultimate year I had so many bone spurs that I could barely get more on one side,” he said. “But I played almost 80 games. So I said, “Let’s try to pull out the bone spurs and get a little more movement in the ankle and that might be better.”
“But it didn’t work out that way. In fact, it hurt more while playing. It took me forever to get in shape. So the last couple of years have kind of taken a bit of fun, unfortunately.
“The ankle told me it was time to go.”
And now, in three seasons since his retirement, Nowitzki continues to thrill us and make us appreciate the journey he has taken – and that we have taken with him.