Mavs retire Dirk Nowitzki’s No. 41 in emotional ceremony

By Antigoni Zachari / [email protected]

Dirk Nowitzki’s No. 41 was finally sent into the rafters of the American Airlines Center, Dallas Mavericks’ home, two years after the German great announced his retirement.

Nowitzki is the fourth player in the franchise’s history to have his jersey retired, after Brad Davis, Rolando Blackman and Derek Harper. The Mavs have also retired Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 after his death in 2020.

“I almost made it through without getting emotional,” Nowitzki said moments before he and his family saw his jersey rising up “But you guys [fans] get me every time.”.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Mavs owner Mark Cuban, and Nowitzki’s long-term mentor Holger Geschwindner were just among the many select guests of the grand ceremony that followed Mavs’ win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.

Nowitzki, a 21-season record man with Dallas, 2011 NBA Champion and Finals MVP, 2007 MVP and 14-time All-Star gave a 20-minute long emotional speech in front of the Dallas crowd, recollecting moments from his career.

“It’s June 1998, I just got on the plane to come to Dallas after I got drafted”, Nowitzki said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous, I was anxious. I get off the plane and I see hundreds of fans, I see Dirk posters, I see signs… Man, this is pretty cool, they really want me to come here and appreciate me”.

“From that point on it was engraved in my mind that Dallas was my spot to be”, Dirk said while receiving fans’ chanting.

The story took on an unexpected turn shortly after. “There’s a kicker to that story”, he said in all smiles. “Couple of years after, I was talking to a Mavs employee and I said ‘remember when I first got here and I touched down and there were so many fans, it was amazing!’. He turns to me and says, ‘Those weren’t fans, those were Mavs employees and we were sent out there!”.

Nowitzki then thanked a plethora of people both in the Mavs franchise and the NBA, and, of course, the fans, receiving a standing ovation and MVP chants before the big moment approached.

Joined by his wife and three kids, Nowitzki saw his number go up the rafters, to conclude a legendary career in the Mavs franchise.

“A night you’ll never forget,” 22-year-old Mavs sensation Luka Doncic said after the ceremony. “To be there in the front row to see that, it was special.”

Relive the emotional ceremony in the video that follows:


Photo: Getty Images

The post Mavs retire Dirk Nowitzki’s No. 41 in emotional ceremony appeared first on Eurohoops.