What a big moment for Dirk Nowitzki (43)!
The Dallas Mavericks celebrate one of the greatest basketball players of all time, let Nowitzki’s number 41 jersey be pulled down from the hall ceiling. A ceremony of legends tonight with tears!
Immediately following Dallas’ NBA win over the Golden State Warriors (99:82), in which Nowitzki’s heir Luka Doncic (bending his knees just before the finale) was injured, the ceremony takes place at the American Airlines Center.
The chilling honor for Dirk Nowitzki
Nowitzki, who became an NBA champion with Dallas in 2011 and was with the Mavericks for 21 years, wears a light blue suit, white shirt and blue tie. His wife Jessica wears a black dress. Daughter Malaika and sons Max and Morris are not lacking. Everyone is sitting on chairs on the floor. The children sit between Dirk and Jessica.
At 9:22 pm local time in Dallas, the ceremony (“41 forever”) will begin shortly after the game.
The biggest moments of his career are shown in the video cube. Nowitzki is beaming, her eyes are already glowing.
NBA boss Adam Silver (59) says, among other things, “Dirk has inspired international players.”
Dallas coach and former teammate Jason Kidd gives a speech, asks Dirk: “Are you coming back for 10 days?” Huge laugh! “We can always count on you! Thank you for always being you! Thank you also to Jessica, your children. You are going to be a great father.”
Nowitzki swallows, is visibly touched.
So many friends, former coaches, former colleagues are recorded via video message saying what made Dirk so special.
One of the most beautiful quotes: “As great as he was as a basketball player – he’s an even better person!”
Phew, Nowitzki swallows again. He drinks water quickly to wash away the lump in his throat.
Club owner Mark Cuban (63) unveils a mini-sized statue of Nowitzki, which will grow to a gigantic size in front of the hall in the future.
“I took some notes. Everybody sit down, it’s going to take a while what I’m going to say. In June 1998, I was sitting on the plane, not knowing what to expect. When I was there, I saw Dirk’s plates on every Then I thought, man, they want you here. I knew then that I would be here forever. I found out later that they weren’t fans, they were club employees.”
The hall laughs.
He thanks everyone who spoke in the video. “That was great!”
He thanks Marc Cuban, who has to wipe a tear from his eye. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and my family!”
He thanks his Mavericks sponsors Don and Donnie Nelson. He thanks his coaches, his assistant coaches, his nearly 200 teammates in his Dallas career, friends like Steve Nash, the 2011 champion team (“I love you!”), Mavericks employees behind the scenes.
He thanks everyone on the German basketball team!
He thanks his family – and his mentor and discoverer Holger Geschwindner (76). “He’s always been there for me! I know you don’t like the spotlight. But today is for you too.”
“Thanks to my parents! You are the best parents! I’m so glad you’re here.”
His parents Jörg and Helga are sitting in the audience.
Photo: TOM PENNINGTON/AFP
“Thank you also that my father-in-law came from Sweden. The best thing about you is your daughter.”
He then directs his words to his wife Jessica.
“Jess, you are the backbone of the family. I love you! You are the best mother, you are the best wife!”
“Thanks to my children, Malaika, Morris and Max. I love you. I’m proud to be your father.”
“And last but not least, I’d like to thank you fans!”
Dirk has tears in his eyes.
Then, with his wife and kids, he presses the button that pulls his shirt under the covers.
Confetti flies through the air in the hallway. Your child tries to catch the glowing fragments.
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