Dirk Nowitzki To Make Final Mavericks Appearance At Jersey Retirement Ceremony

Fans of the Dallas Mavericks are reminiscing about the admirable career of German NBA player Dirk Nowitzki ahead of his jersey retirement ceremony on January 5.

Nowitzki, who has been active in 21 seasons of the National Basketball Association, commenced his journey with the first draft in 1998.

His jersey will be retired following his final game against the Golden State Warriors. 

In an emotional press conference before the game and subsequent ceremony, Nowitzki became emotional, stating:

“I have had some time during the last two-to-two and a half years to read some letters I have received or when I am out in town, how many people have approached me and expressed gratitude for my contributions. So, it’s special. Special, special,”

The 7-foot-tall German player has had one of the most outstanding careers in NBA history, and his jersey retirement will undoubtedly evoke emotions for long-time fans.

German Basketball Origins

If growing at an exceptional rate wasn’t enough of an indicator for a basketball career, being born into an athletic family was just the beginning for Nowitzki.

Nowitzki was born in Würzburg, Germany, to professional basketball player Helga and handball player Jörg-Werner Nowitzki in 1978.

His sister, Silke, is a local track and field champion and now works for the NBA in international television after pursuing a career as a player herself.

Fed up with being considered too tall to play handball, Nowitzki turned his focus towards the sport his mother was renowned for.

At 15 years old, Nowitzki caught the attention of former German basketballer Holger Geschwindner, who started coaching him individually a couple of times a week.

Geschwindner’s training regimen was demanding – he made Nowitzki emphasize shooting and passing exercises, refusing to let Nowitzki participate in weight training and tactical drills.

He also encouraged the young star to explore literature and take up playing a musical instrument to ensure he developed a personality beyond basketball.

The unconventional training routine paid off, and Nowitzki committed to a full-time training schedule.

He joined the DJK Würzburg team in 1994, competing in Germany’s 2nd-tier level league in the South division. 

Nowitzki was initially mentored by Pit Sahl, who chose not to position him as an inside-scoring center to capitalize on his shooting abilities. 

The rookie player was benched after the team’s disappointing sixth-place finish in the 1994-1995 Second Bundesliga season.

His academic performance suffered significantly, compelling him to refocus on education rather than honing his skills as an athlete. 

In the next season, he cemented his place as a starter, soon evolving into a double-digit scorer – with his 24-point effort leading Dirk Bauermann to declare Nowitzki as the best German basketball player in the past decade.

His talent caught the attention of players and fans overseas, particularly after the time Nowitzki spent in the Nike Hoop Heroes Tour, where he faced off against NBA legends Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippin.

In a tense 30-minute match, Nowitzki succeeded in dunking Barkley, prompting the star to comment:

 “The boy is a genius. If he wants to enter the NBA, he can call me.”

The 1998 NBA Drafts & The Mavericks

Nowitzki made his debut appearance in the 1998 NBA drafts, rejecting multiple collegiate athlete offers to directly enter the NBA.

He was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the ninth pick and was later traded to the Dallas Mavericks in a multi-team transaction.

Nowitzki was the fourth German player in NBA history to be drafted and the lone Würzburg player to have made it to the NBA in the United States.

After a shaky start, the rookie found his rhythm in the 1999-2000 NBA season.

On January 4, 2000, the Mavericks were purchased by Internet billionaire Mark Cuban, who invested $280 million in revamping the team.

Cuban’s efforts revitalized the team, boosting franchise revenues to an impressive $100 million after a complete overhaul.

Nowitzki credits Cuban’s business acumen for his personal growth, believing he had to step up and demonstrate he was worthy of being part of this rejuvenated team.

Despite his personal improvement, the Mavericks missed the playoffs after a lackluster 40-42 season.

However, this did not deter Nowitzki, who now had a point to prove to basketball enthusiasts worldwide.

In the 2000-2001 season, Nowitzki worked on elevating his averages and became the first Maverick in the team’s history to be voted into the All-NBA squads.

His 30-point performance across ten games was a significant factor in the Mavericks reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1990.

He emerged as a franchise player following a burgeoning career in 2004, leading the team to the finals for the first time the following year.

By then, Nowitzki had achieved a record-breaking average of 26.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists during a single season.

This marked not only his third 2000-point season, but his 26.6 point average was the highest by a European. 

Nowitzki’s Jersey Retirement

After an illustrious career, Nowitzki decided to conclude his NBA journey after the 2018-2019 season.

In December, he set the record for most seasons played with one team, surpassing Kobe Bryant’s record of 20 seasons with the Lakers.

Nowitzki also matched the record when he became the fifth player to participate in 21 NBA seasons.

On March 18, 2019, he became the sixth-highest scoring player of all time, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain’s infamous 31,419 points.

He announced his retirement after the team’s final home game and ended his career with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a loss to the Spurs. 

His jersey will be retired after the Maverick’s home game against the Warriors at 6:30 pm on January 5.

The ceremony will commemorate his historic career, and Nowitzki will be accompanied by Cuban, coach Jason Kidd, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver for the heartfelt tribute.

Nowitzki hopes fans will be able to take home a piece of his memorabilia, stating the event will have a museum-like atmosphere featuring items from his personal collection (such as jerseys and keys).

“The Mavs came up with that idea to make this evening special for the fans. So I went through my stuff at home and found some interesting items,” he mentioned in the press conference.

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