It’s not very often, if ever, that a Dallas Maverick receives cheers in the AT&T Center. In Dirk Nowitzki’s final NBA game the chants, cheers, and adulation for the greatest Spurs killer rang out from his first warm up shots until he left the court for the final time.
When announcing the Mavericks starting lineup the Spurs PA announcer ran through the same routine for the first four names on that sheet. Then the only one remaining was Dirk, and he went quiet as the arena lights dimmed while the video board lit up. The Spurs made a tribute video for Dirk Nowitzki’s final introduction into an NBA game.
This beautiful tribute by the Spurs brought Nowitzki to tears before the game even started. It wasn’t just that his biggest rivals made a montage of his great moments, it’s that they included the moments where Dirk torched the Spurs, moments that Spurs fans agonized over.
The arena was filled with Duncan, Ginobli, and Parker jerseys, but the most common jersey in that arena was #41. This game was must-win for the Spurs if they wanted to avoid Golden State in the first round. In this must-win game the Spurs sent constant double-teams and even a few triple-teams at Nowiztki because Dirk was doing Dirk things.
One night after a 40-year-old played 33 minutes and took 31 shots Nowitzki came back and poured 20 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
After the game Dirk talked about wanting to get 20 points and 10 rebounds which he managed to do on his final shot of the night. He said that Eubanks backed off of him because he heard Gregg Popovich yelling “get away from him.”
No player gets that level of respect, it’s just unheard of. The greatest player in franchise history of their biggest rival came into the Spurs Arena for his final game to universal applause.
This unbelievable phenomenon is a testament to the type of player and person Dirk Nowitzki is and the level of integrity and highest level of respect the San Antonio Spurs have for him.
Dirk Nowitzki played his final NBA game in a place where he’s been a villain his whole career and was treated like a hero. It’s a moment both Mavericks and Spurs fans will remember forever.