The Mavericks may not be winning many games, but between Doncic and future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, who is potentially playing his farewell season, they are winning over NBA arenas and turning foes to friends. The Clippers defeated the Mavericks 121-112 but the night belonged to the NBA’s most popular duo at the moment — the past and future of the Dallas franchise.
Nowitzki, 40, is playing in his 21st NBA season and while the German has not announced that he will retire at the end of the campaign the mere possibility has been enough to commemorate his every NBA stop. Nowitzki played in his 1,500th career game on Monday — only three players have played in more — and was cheered wildly by the L.A. crowd every time he touched the ball. He put up 12 points, but it felt like 50 given the fan reaction.
Salute to one of the greatest to ever do it.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) 26 February 2019
Clippers coach Doc Rivers added to the adulation when he called a timeout with nine seconds left in the game, grabbed the public address announcer’s microphone and paid tribute to Nowitzki.
The crowd then gave Nowitzki a standing ovation and Clippers players came over to pay homage to the German veteran.
“The career that he had has been excellent,” Clippers guard Lou Williams told reporters. “He is a champion in this league and one of the trailblazers for international players coming over to the NBA.”
The NBA created a special roster spot for Nowitzki earlier this month at the All-Star Game, and the Dallas sharpshooter is now being embraced in places he was once feared and reviled.
“It’s definitely different,” Nowitzki told Reuters. “A couple weeks ago, in Boston and (Indianapolis), fans are cheering and I’m trying to actually score a basket for them because I haven’t scored all game. That was weird. Never had that in my career.
“The fans have been incredible.”