Dirk Nowitzki is finally retiring after one of the longest NBA careers in history. What’s more striking is that he played all 21 of his seasons with the same team: the Dallas Mavericks. Needless to say, Dirk is loved in Dallas and all over North Texas. In his two decades of playing in Dallas, Dirk led the Mavs to the playoffs 15 times and to the finals twice. 2006 was the first time the Mavs had ever made it to the finals and in 2011 they finally brought home the championship.
But Dirk’s legacy is much more than just being the best power forward the city has ever seen. His work off the court has had an incredible impact in Dallas.
No one starts out as a league MVP and Dirk was no exception. While he was a promising young player, he had a lot of growing up to do when he landed in Texas. He came to the States from Germany as a young kid with a lot of raw talent and minimal English skills. Twenty years later, he’s revolutionized the role of the big man in basketball and become an important public figure in his home city.
In Dirk’s mind, he’s become a Texan. And the Dallas fans couldn’t be happier about it. Few players stay with the same team for their entire careers and none have ever played 21 seasons for a single team. But loyalty is so important for Dirk that once he made his home in Dallas he didn’t dream of leaving.
Dirk’s Connection to Dallas
Dallas has been so important to Dirk because he didn’t just play basketball there. He was deeply involved in the community and made a real difference to the lives of many people.
Throughout his career, Dirk was known for his charity work. Every year, the Mavericks used to go to a children’s hospital in Dallas to bring gifts to the kids. This tradition stopped after a few years, but Dirk kept it going on his own. He made sure that he showed up with gifts for the kids and gave them his time and encouragement.
This kind of behavior was not out of character for Dirk. He was always the one to stay late after games and sign autographs for fans. It was obvious in interviews that Dirk was a man of the people and Mavericks fans loved him for it.
The city of Dallas has a soft spot in its heart for Dirk. But the game of basketball has grown a lot because of him as well. Dirk was one of the first big men to take the game out to the perimeter. Dirk is a seven-footer but can shoot threes like a shooting guard. Having this kind of threat on the outside means that there is one fewer big men on defense to defend slashes to the hoop. So having a big man who can shoot threes really opens up the paint. We are seeing power forwards and centers who can shoot from outside more and more now in the NBA, and we have Dirk to thank for this shift in play.
Whether it’s on or off the court, Dirk is already missed by Dallas fans and basketball fans around the country. He was one of a kind on the floor. His awkward shooting motion has inspired a generation of kids to shoot off of one foot while fooling around in the driveway. Dirk has given his all to the game of basketball and the city of Dallas. No one deserves a happy retirement more than him.