MEMPHIS – The Dallas Mavericks are gearing up to throw one big shindig for Dirk Nowitzki surrounding Tuesday’s regular season home finale against the Phoenix Suns at American Airlines Center.
“It’s going to be amazing,” proprietor Mark Cuban told Mavs.com prior to Sunday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum. “Before (the game), during (the game), and we’re going to keep people afterwards and do something extra special.
“There’s going to be some special guests that we’ve flown in that are important to Dirk. There’s going to be all kinds of people.”
Nowitzki, of course, has yet to announce if this will be his final NBA season. But just in case it is, the Mavs are sending him off in style.
“It’s going to be emotional,” Cuban said. “The last three games are emotional already. It’s going to be difficult for a lot of us. I think it’s going to be harder for Dirk, but for those of us at a certain age, we know things get better.”
Nowitzki, who turns 41 on June 19, has spent his entire 21-year career with the Mavs. He’s been a 14-time All-Star, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, and the Finals’ MVP when he led the Mavs to the 2011 NBA championship.
And more than anything, Nowitzki has been a close friend to Cuban.
“When I think of all the memories I’ve had with Dirk, most of them are off the court.,” Cuban said. “He’s six months on, six months off during the seasons, and the time I spend away from basketball with him are the best moments I remember with him.
“The good news is those don’t go away. I’ll probably get to spend more time with him.”
Cuban noted that he can’t help but get emotional when thinking of all that Nowitzki has done for his franchise and for the city of Dallas.
“It’s been 20 years,” said Cuban, who purchased the Mavs on Jan. 4, 2000. “The whole time I’ve owned the Mavs he’s been part of it.
“It’s like sending your kids off to college. It’s going to be kind of a shock to the system in a lot of respects.”
Coach Rick Carlisle has certainly enjoyed being Nowitzki’s coach since 2008.
“It’s been an experience that has been second to none, really on every level,” Carlisle said. “From the tone that he sets every day to how he approaches the game and how he enables his teammates to play better than they would otherwise because of how he affects the game.
“(He’s) the breed of player that wants the responsibility of winning and losing, and his willing to put his face on the franchise is very unique. There just aren’t many guys around, and he’s done it with an integrity, humility and loyalty that is unmatched from anything that I’ve seen in my 34 years (in the NBA).”