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Dirk Nowitzki isn’t a sensational rookie, but he still deserves Dallas’ full attention

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The city of Dallas has completely bought into their football team’s youth movement, and deservedly so. But even in his 19th season, Nowitzki still deserves as much attention.

NBA: Preseason-Charlotte Hornets at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I have been captivated by the young energy and elite-level play of rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to open the season. Their rise to early-season greatness is remarkable, with Elliott putting up Eric Dickerson-esque numbers behind a dominant offensive line, and Prescott showing the poise and leadership of a 10-year veteran.

It’s easy to see why the hype around them is reaching peak levels of crazy. It’s easy, yet hilarious, to see why Cowboys fans are having conversations that include the phrases “quarterback controversy” and “Super Bowl” in the same breath. And in the wake of this Cowboys resurgence, America’s Team is once again asserting itself as the top team in the Metroplex.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks are projected to win a paltry 34.3 games by ESPN. Most sites that make predictions don’t think Dallas will make the playoffs. Offseason acquisitions of Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut have done little to relieve the anxiety felt by Mavs fans over the team’s performance.

But still ... I’m going to watch every. single. game.

Why?

Dirk. That’s why.

It's fun to see new talent like Dak and Zeke emerge, but we should be just as entranced by the consistent greatness of Dirk Nowitzki, even now. Dirk Nowitzki has been the greatest Dallas sports athlete in the past 20 years, and I’m going to soak up every last second.

Michael Young, DeMarcus Ware, Terrance Newman, Roy Williams, Ian Kinsler and Brenden Morrow all started and ended their time as Dallas sports stars while Dirk was spending the last 19 seasons being elite. Those 19 season equal more than the seasons Alex Rodriguez (3), Terrell Owens (3), Brett Hull (3), Steve Nash (6), and Alfonso Soriano (2) spent in DFW combined.

While Quincy Carter, Anthony Wright, Ryan Leaf, and Clint Stoerner were all starting at quarterback for the Cowboys in 2001, Dirk was logging 38 double-doubles, making his first All-Star appearance, and helping the Mavs to 56 wins.

While the Dallas Stars were in their third season of five consecutive seasons without making the playoffs (2008-2013), Dirk was leading the Mavericks to an NBA Championship.

While the Texas Rangers were finishing in 5th place in the AL West in 2014, Dirk was making the All-Star team for the 13th time.

He’s been the only constant in Dallas sports for virtually two full decades.

Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have burned bright in the first six games of their young careers. We’ve seen all too often how fleeting success can be at the professional level, between Roddy B, Julius Jones, and Josh Hamilton. That’s not to say Dak and Zeke will go the same way, because it seems very clear they have staying power.

But as cliched as it is, “Father Time is undefeated” still rings true. Eventually, Dirk is going to ride off into the sunset. It’s going to be heartbreaking, but it’s going to happen. And, because of who he is, it’s going to happen more like Tim Duncan, and less like Kobe Bryant, Derek Jeter, and Big Papi. We won’t get a victory lap with Dirk.

While he’s still here, no matter the state of the team, I’m going to keep watching Dirk play.

You should too.