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Dirk Nowitzki announces he is retiring

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THIS WAS AN APRIL FOOL'S JOKE. Sorry for any confusion.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ed. note: This was an April Fool's prank posted on, well, April Fool's. If you're still stumbling across it, we apologize for any confusion. We certainly didn't have the expectation of this post becoming as popular as it did!

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Dirk Nowitzki, the best player in the history of the Dallas Mavericks, has announced his retirement Wednesday, April 1.

This marks the end of a phenomenal 17-year career which saw Nowitzki celebrate feats that no other foreign player has accomplished. During his time in the NBA, Nowitzki was a 13-time All Star, MVP, NBA champion, and Finals MVP. He ends his career as the seventh all time scorer in NBA history with 27,986 points. Nowitzki recently also entered a club in which he stands alone. He is the only NBA player to record 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 1,000 blocks, and 1,000 3-pointers.

Nowitzki issued an official statement on April 1st:

Playing my whole career in Dallas has been something special. I've been surrounded by a great organization and owner, good coaches, great teammates, and the best fans in the NBA. The treatment that I have received here is unmatched and I am happy to say that as I shut it down, I still call Dallas home.

I want to thank everyone who has cheered for the team and who supported us through everything. It was never about the individual numbers for me. I never played to set records. I was too focused on playing and bettering myself and doing what needed to be done to help the team. What we accomplished in 2011 was one of the greatest moments in my career and I am never going to forget it.

However, the time has come for me to focus on the next journey of my life. I knew this day was coming for some time. I just never knew how difficult it would be for me. Seeing Steve [Nash] announce his retirement was tough. Then my wife and I had our second child. Everything just kind of fell into perspective for me.

I cannot thank the city and the fans enough. You truly are the best.

During shootaround before the Mavericks' game against the Thunder, Mark Cuban commented on Nowitzki's retirement. "While I hate seeing him go, I respect his decision," Cuban said. "This franchise wouldn't be what it is without Dirk. This city wouldn't be the same without him. Dirk is Dallas and Dallas loves him. We'll get his number up in the rafters in no time."

When asked whether there is the possibility of a statue of Nowitzki being erected outside of the American Airlines Center, Cuban shot reporters a wry smile. "I never rule anything out."

Cuban purchased a majority stake in in the Mavericks in 2000.

"Look, I don't know what more I can say about him. He's is a consummate professional and a champion," Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. "He is the focal point of everything we do here. Everyone else is going to have to be ready to step up now that he's gone. I wish him the best."

Former head coach Don Nelson called into a local radio show this morning in from Hawaii to comment as well. "I would throw him out there and tell him, 'I don't want you banging down low. I want you taking shots from outside. You're like a stick. You wouldn't last long in the paint.' He just gave us so many options. I guess it was lucky that we got him in that trade."

Nowitzki was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1998 with the ninth overall pick. He was traded to the Dallas Mavericks on draft night along with Pat Garrity in exchange for Robert "Tractor" Traylor.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings declared April 1st Dirk Nowitzki Day. With the announcement of his retirement coming so suddenly, celebratory events are being planned for this weekend around Dallas. The capstone of the celebrations will be a concert featuring David Hasselhoff honoring Nowitzki in Victory Plaza after the Mavs play the Warriors on Saturday night.

If you haven't picked up on it by now, this is a meager attempt at an April Fool's Day prank. Of course Dirk isn't retiring right now, but he better get a David Hasselhoff concert (and the undying gratitude of a city and fanbase) when he does decide to hang things up for real.