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German Basketball Federation retires Dirk Nowitzki’s number

The best player in Mavericks’ history picks up yet another honor.

NBA: All Star Game-Team Durant at Team LeBron Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

A legend like Dirk Nowitzki can’t be contained to just one nation. Nowitzki’s number 41 was retired by the Dallas Mavericks last season, and today, the German Basketball Federation did the same. Nowitzki was honored at the opening ceremony of Eurobasket 2022 before Germany took on France at Lanxess Arena. Nowitzki becomes the first German basketball player to have his number retired.

After watching Charles Barkley dominate on the 1992 Dream Team for the United States, Nowitzki chose 14 as his number. He switched to 41 when he joined the Mavericks because Robert Pack already wore 14.

“When I came to the USA, I wanted number 14, but a player named Robert Pack had it and didn’t want to give it up to a young German rookie,” Nowitzki laughed. ”So I ended up flipping the numbers and it worked out great. Internationally for Germany I was always 14 and in the USA I was 41, so it kind of worked perfectly.”

Nowitzki played 153 games for Germany over the course of his 21-year NBA career. He earned MVP honors at FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2002, and EuroBasket in 2005, leading Germany to third- and second-place finishes, respectively. Nowitzki has always said one of his proudest accomplishments in basketball is leading Germany to the 2008 Olympics. He truly loved competing for his home country.

“It was for me an unforgettable journey,” Nowitzki told the crowd before the game. Luka Doncic was present for the ceremony, his Slovenian team having just defeated Lithuania just prior. Mark Cuban, Jason Kidd, Nico Harrison, Michael Finley, and trainer Casey Smith were all in attendance as well.

Nowitzki specifically thanked Cuban for supporting him competing internationally. “You always supported me in playing every summer,” Nowitzki said to Cuban. “You knew it was important to me to represent country and I really appreciate that.”