From that first free throw against the Seattle SuperSonics to the last one-legged fadeaway from his logo that forever graces the court at American Airlines Center.
From Steve Nash to Luka Dončić.
From hoisting the championship trophy over his head to hurling a chair (or was it a trash can?) into the wall at Golden State’s arena.
Dirk Nowitzki has been part of so many memories for Maverick fans, there’s no way to list them all.
Collectively, they represent one of the most amazing careers in NBA history, a career that will be celebrated and immortalized on Jan. 5 when Nowitzki’s No. 41 jersey will be officially retired and raised to the rafters.
After the Mavericks play Golden State, the ceremony will take place with NBA commissioner Adam Silver joining owner Mark Cuban and coach Jason Kidd on the guest list.
Nowitzki will join Rolando Blackman, Brad Davis and Derek Harper as Maverick legends to have their jerseys retired. All of them are scheduled to be in the building that night.
It was only a matter of time, and timing, until Nowitzki’s jersey was retired. He is the greatest Maverick ever and finished his career with 31,560 points, sixth most in NBA history. This comes after he already had a street named after him. And more tributes will come. A statue, probably.
And it’s all a little overwhelming for the kid from Wurzburg, Germany.
He’s never been one to self-promote. That’s probably why fans universally love him. He is one of us, never afraid to admit his human frailties or make us laugh with some self-deprecating commentary. As humble as a superstar could ever be.
He’s been a selfless ambassador for Dallas, a pillar in the community for raising money and giving his time to charitable organizations.
Somebody every MFFL can be proud of.
And, he was a champion.
“Dirk is everything to the Mavs,” Cuban said. “First, 41.21.1. And now, lifting his jersey to the rafters. It is a special day for the Mavs and Mavs fans around the world.”
The 41.21.1 is in reference to Nowitzki’s NBA life – No. 41 played 21 years for 1 team. It’s a feat no other NBA player can claim. The late Kobe Bryant played 20 seasons, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. Tim Duncan spent all 19 of his seasons with San Antonio.
Both were fierce rivals with Nowitzki, which bred the utmost respect.
“The idea of having a guy that was 7-foot that could stretch the floor, that was revolutionary,” Byrant once said. “I’m sure it inspired a lot of big (guys) to say: you know what? I want to be like Dirk Nowitzki.”
To which, Nowitzki said: “He’s our Michael Jordan, for our generation – one of the best to ever lace ‘em up. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to compete against him almost my entire career.”
As revered as Bryant is in LA, it’s the same for Nowitzki in Dallas.
And a lot of other places, too. What other NBA players have a shrine to them in another team’s arena? Nowitzki had one of his human moments in 2007 when the No. 1-seeded Mavericks got beat in the first round of the playoffs by Golden State. On the way to the locker room after the Warriors’ series-clinching win, Nowitzki picked up the nearest item he could find and threw it at the wall across from the Mavericks’ locker room.
“Some people say it was a trash can, some people say it was a chair,” Nowitzki said. “I have no idea what it even was. I don’t remember much. Heat of the moment.”
The hole in the wall was moved from Oracle Arena to the Warriors new home, Chase Center.
Now that’s respect. Even in defeat, Nowitzki gave us history.
He was a 14-time all-star. He was the first European to be named MVP (2006-07). In that season, he hit the magical 90-50-40 mark – making 90 percent of his free throws, 50 percent of his shots and 40 percent of his 3-pointers.
And, of course, he led the Mavericks to their only championship in 2011.
The Jan. 5 game is included in a special “41 Forever Ticket Package,” which quickly sold out. Fans in attendance will receive Dirk memorabilia, including a special edition NFT, commemorative ticket, rally towel and more.
Fans can also ensure a seat in the arena on Jan. 5 by becoming Club Maverick members. Call 214-747-MAVS.
It will be another special night – just like so many others that Nowitzki has authored for our entertainment in the past.
And a night that fans will want to be able to say they were there to see it, just like the final home game Nowitzki played in 2019, when he piled up 30 points in 33 minutes in a win over Phoenix.
Or the time he outdueled Tracy McGrady with 53 points, to McGrady’s 48, in one of the epic one-on-one battles in AAC history.
And too many others to mention. But at least one more in the making on Jan. 5.