Dirk Nowitzki Received a Hero's Welcome and Was Bid a Legend's Adieu on the Night He Officially Announced His Retirement From the NBA
Welp, it doesn't get much more fitting than that. From the start, during which Dirk Nowitzki entered the arena that he's called home for the entirety of his illustrious career to the love and adoration of the most extended of his work family. To the finish, during which a bunch of the NBA legends he grew up idolizing took both the floor and the mic in speaking to his eternal place amongst them. Sprinkle in a tidy 30 point stat line capped off by a mid-range fadeaway that's been entirely unblockable since he all-but-copyrighted it decades ago, a teary-eyed tribute to his efforts in the local community, and a retirement announcement that would have been understated if not for a sold-out arena losing their voices in honor of his legacy. Put it all together and what you get is a night that did as fantastic a job as one night possibly could in encapsulating all that Dirk Nowitzki means to the game of basketball as the living embodiment of the Dallas Mavericks.
The overseas talent who, more or less, gave the "they're with me" wave in opening up the NBA's door to the flood of European players to follow. The game-changer to which every new school stretch four with a wet jumper owes a piece of their paycheck. The champion that didn't just repeatedly take less money in shrugging off the notion of joining a "superteam", but beat the brakes off what was the most notorious one at the time in proving that team can trump talent en route to a title that officially filled his resume. The leader whose career with the one franchise for which he may always be the face of might just be one of final few arguments that loyalty in sports isn't a complete farce. Dirk Nowitzki shattered both regional and physical stereotypes while all-out assaulting defensive game plans in a way that forced the entire sport to adapt for the better, and he did so as a universally beloved figure who became synonymous with his city. I don't know that last night was proof of all that, but it was as strong, thorough, and...well...awesome an implication as you could have possibly expected.