Dallas: Dirk Nowitzki cried near midcourt when the second quarter was about to resume.
The Dallas Mavericks star nearly jumped for joy with a huge smile on his face after a rare dunk prompted thunderous applause from a crowd celebrating the final home game of his record 21st season with the same franchise.
And then after Larry Bird joked during a postgame ceremony that he was “15 when Dirk came into the league and now I’m 62,” Nowitzki let fly with a realisation the 40-year-old said he reached in recent days.
It’s time for the most accomplished European player in NBA history to retire after scoring a season-high 30 points in a 120-109 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
“As you guys might expect, this is my last home game,” Nowitzki said, doing a better job of fighting his emotions than he did at the end of a timeout in the second quarter, after a tribute video showing his holiday visit to a children’s hospital a little more than two years ago.
“This is obviously super, super emotional. Just too many people to really thank. I put you guys on a helluva ride with a lot of ups and downs, and you guys always stuck with me and supported me, so I appreciate it.”
Nowitzki never shared his retirement plans because he didn’t want a farewell tour, but he also said he only began serious deliberations on retirement when his lower body gave him issues late in the season.