WASHINGTON – As Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks watched the overwhelming praise, applause and tributes his fans went out of their way to give Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki on Wednesday night at the Capital One Arena, he wanted to make one major correction.
Sure, the Wizards fans kept wildly shouting “We Want Dirk, We Want Dirk” while the Mavs’ legendary forward was sitting on the bench late in the fourth quarter of Washington’s 132-123 win over the Mavs. But Brooks said:
“At the end, I think our fans had it all wrong. I thought that was a mistake on their part. They should have been chanting ‘One more year. One more year.’ We all want to see (Nowitzki) one more year. You don’t want him to leave.”
Now in his 21st season, Nowitzki has yet to say whether or not this is his final NBA season. Instead, he’s keeping his options open and could indeed return for a 22nd year next season.
In the meantime, fans like the ones in Washington and other places across he NBA continue to give Nowitzki what amounts to a farewell tour. A farewell tour to whom Brooks describes as one of the true ambassadors of the NBA.
Even Emily Haber, the German ambassador to the United States, attended Wednesday night’s game.
“He’s a global icon,” Brooks said. “He’s done so much for the game, and he’s so fun to watch. I’m sure he’s so important to their locker room. He’s a winner’s winner.
“It’s contagious what he brings to his team and just the competitiveness, the drive, his ability to come back year after year after year after year and get better and never satisfied with being a first-time All-Star, first-time All-NBA player, first-time champion. He comes back every year, and that’s what you want your best players to do is work out every single time.”
While the 40-year old Nowitzki was 0-of-3 from the field and scored only two points against Washington, that mattered not to Wizards guard Tomas Satoransky, who is from the Czech Republic. For Satoransky, being on the same court with Nowitzki was like being on the same floor with royalty.
“It always feels great – such a special player, a great player,” Satoransky said. “Gets a standing ovation or his respect like that from the opposite team’s fans. He deserves it. Without a doubt.
“It was good for the last time going against him. Every time you go against someone you watched growing up, it’s special.”
And it was special for Brooks to coach against Nowitzki and have the pleasure of trying to devise a scheme to slow him down.
“I heard it as a kid many times when Larry Bird would lose, he came back and had something different,” Brooks said. “When Magic (Johnson) lost, they came back with something different.
“You want your best player to come back with something different and better each year. And he’s done it for nearly. . .I don’t know if he’s come back the last couple of years with something different, but he’s a lot of years been one of the best players ever.”