During the closing seconds of Monday night's game against the Dallas Mavericks, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers called timeout, giving the fans in the Staples Center a chance to applaud Dirk Nowitzki, who is on his goodbye tour. Thanks to having a 121-112 cushion, Rivers was able to make this nice gesture and Nowitzki seemed to appreciate it as did the fans. While these guys are really competitive during the heat of battle, there's also a ton of mutual respect among all who have played and/or coached in the NBA. It's a very elite fraternity and moments like this remind you of that.
Thanks Doc and Clippers fans! I will always remember this https://t.co/kzVfbt5S4E— Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) February 26, 2019
If there's any guy who is deserving of such a moment, it's Dirk Nowitzki. He's a 14x NBA All-Star, 4x All-NBA First Team, 5x All-NBA Second Team, 3x All-NBA Third Team, an NBA champion, an NBA Finals MVP, and #7 on the NBA's all-time scoring list (#6 Wilt Chamberlain isn't far ahead). Nowitzki is one of the greatest players to ever step on an NBA floor and he's done it all in a very unassuming, non-flashy way. He played for the same team his entire career, never was one to demand trades, and did things the right way.
In some ways, seeing Nowitzki retire marks the end of an era. He was drafted in 1998 with the 9th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks and traded to the Mavericks that same day. He's played against John Stockton, Karl Malone, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, and many others who are either retired or soon to be retired. As a matter of fact, of that group, only Carter is still in the league. He comes from a different generation and so to watch him play is really special.
While he's part of a different generation, Nowitzki also was one of the first big men to really stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting prowess. Given how stretch bigs are much more common in today's game, Nowitzki in a way was ahead of his time. His fadeaway jumper was almost impossible to stop and when left open from 3-point range, he was death. He's unique in that he's sort of a bridge between an era where bigs played strictly in the post and the modern era where they have much more freedom to play out on the perimeter.
The NBA will be different with him gone, but his legacy will live on forever. When we think about the greatest players in NBA history, we tend to think of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and several others before we think about Dirk Nowitzki. But the truth is his name absolutely should be mentioned in the same breath as those guys. When you look at his body of work, it's clear that it measures up pretty well. I hope more people will realize this and give him the same due respect that Doc Rivers did.
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