It’s not even lunch time yet and here I’ve seen five different basketball websites aggregating Brad Townsend’s piece in the Dallas Morning News that Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t made a retirement decision yet.
If you read this site and other Dallas affiliated sites, you know this isn’t news. Sure, owner Mark Cuban went on the radio and indicated that Dirk was retiring, but after 20 years with Cubes, if you take everything he has to say as gospel, I have some land to sell you.
Look, it’s not Dirk’s fault that everyone is giving him the retirement tour treatment. The NBA placed him in the three point contest and the All-Star game, which was nice but also not a thing he sought out. He also did this in his very limited action:
He’s not doing elaborate post game jersey exchanges like attention seeking super dork Dwyane Wade (He did one with Wade but it was clearly not his idea). Dirk’s not asking for crowds to cheer him when he gets the ball or for opposing coaches to stop the game to give him a round of applause. He’s not asked for any of this because the man simply hasn’t made up his mind.
Go read the DMN article if you haven’t. The first half of the season was clearly one of frustration for Dirk. Nowitzki’s path to recovery was not easy, particularly for a guy who never seemed to like surgical options. He opted to get bone spurs removed from his ankle at the end of last year with the understanding that it would help with his mobility. He came to camp in a pretty good place, but hurt it badly enough to wipe away a lot of his rehab. The Mavericks got him back in the mix in December, but against a terrible stretch in their schedule where he looked horrible.
Those of us who’ve watched Dirk during these twilight years had a strong suspicion he’d round into shape eventually, which he’s finally done from February on. The last few seasons have not had easy starts for Nowitzki. In particular, I argued all he needed was more time on the court to get a feel. And though the team hasn’t been great since the trade for Kristaps Porzingis, he’s certainly been fun to watch.
This is a long way of saying Dirk’s path back to becoming a version of himself was there all along, should anyone actually look for more than a moment.
Whether or not Dirk Nowitzki decides to come back for a record setting 22nd season isn’t the point, though he’s more than welcome to do so should be want to. Rather, everyone should dial back the strong belief that he’s going to step away because it takes away from enjoying what Dirk’s actually doing on the court. It’s cool to see Dirk appreciated. But it’s a lot more awesome to watch him hit a three and affect the game.
There’s time for Dirk retirement talk but everyone needs to settle down and enjoy the ride.