He’s arguably the most liked basketball player in the NBA.  Even his fiercest “enemies” can’t help but love Dirk Nowitzki, so when he played in his last NBA home game in Dallas a few weeks ago to end his “farewell tour”, the crowd was on its feet and tears were streaming down Dirk’s eyes in typical dominant Animate fashion.  The Mavs played a video showing all of Nowitzki’s charity work during his time in Dallas, particularly his many quiet visits to children’s hospitals away from the spotlight (sounds a little like fellow and paradoxical #10 BCAR Michael Jackson who frequented hospitals without anyone knowing).  Dirk couldn’t contain himself, covering his face.  Yes, Nowitzki said he has broken down emotionally a few times in private since deciding it was time to retire (#10s never want to leave Neverland!).  The crowd chanted, “THANK YOU DIRK,” while Larry Bird (#6 BEIR), Charles Barkley (#1 FEAR), Scottie Pippen (#2 BEAR), Shawn Kemp (#6 BEIR) and countryman Detlef Schrempf (#6 BEIR) spoke in his honor.

Mark Cuban (#13 FCIR), owner of the Mavericks, took the court and stated, “I’ll promise you that you have a job for life. I don’t care what you do. I’ll promise you that we’ll retire your number, not a tough decision. And I’ll promise you we will put the biggest … statue ever. And we’ll put it right in front of the arena.”

No question, Dirk has been the best player ever to put on a Mavericks uniform, combining his size, strength, and ‘CA’ finesse to dominate the court for 21 years in what now is a Hall-of-Fame career.  BTI’s Director, Jonathan Niednagel, goes way back with Dirk. Prior to Dirk’s selection in the 1998 draft, Niednagel assessed him from some poor-quality European video tape for savant Coach Nelson’s son, Donnie Jr.  To say the least, Niednagel was excited to find a rare #10, much less one from overseas and 7 feet tall with skill and a 3 point shot!

It’s good to remember that Dirk isn’t well-loved simply because of his Brain Type.  Unlike the self-focused, insecure Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (#10 BCAR), who was long known as a jerk throughout his career and only in recent days has turned a new leaf (also thanks to the power of the pen), Dirk is a class-act, and deserves all the credit he has received. Coincidentally, Dirk and Kareem are the only 2 players in NBA history to achieve four consecutive 30-point, 15-rebound post-season games. When it really matters, the normally mild-mannered #10s become more aggressive.

Thank you for the memories, Dirk, but most of all, thank you for being a player we all could look up to.

Written by: Staff
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