Dirk Nowitzki Officially Announces Retirement After Last Mavericks Home Game

"As you guys might expect, this is my last home game", Nowitzki told an American Airlines Center crowd that forced him to pause his postgame speech to give him an ovation.

Drafted straight out of Germany in 1998 as the ninth overall pick, then immediately traded from the Bucks to the Mavs for Robert "Tractor" Traylor, Nowitzki went on to etch his name in the National Basketball Association record books as the league's greatest European player. "I think we've made a big deal about this being his a year ago, and I think he's coming back".

The sellout crowd that followed Cuban's orders by showing up early chanted "M-V-P" and "One more year" throughout the game. He thanked Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the whole organization, as well as the fans, saying, "I've put you guys on a hell of a ride, with a lot of ups and downs, and you guys always stuck with me and supported me, so I appreciate it".

Nowitzki, 40, announced after the game that he would retire following the Mavericks' season finale Wednesday at San Antonio. Nowitzki, who led the Mavericks to their only championship in 2011, has 31,540 points with one game left. "Tonight for me, of course, was the big night".

The smooth-shooting 7-footer changed the game when the Mavericks traded for the 20-year-old, taken ninth overall in the 1998 draft. It's the longest drought of Nowitzki's career. Nowitzki reached that spot last season, but James passed him. It's expected that Nowitzki will pass on joining former teammate Vince Carter, who has said he plans to return for a record 22nd season. Earlier this season, Sports Illustrated's Jake Fischer explored how hard it was for Nowitzki to prepare for games as a 40-year-old. "It just doesn't make any sense any more physically".

  • Steve Townsend