Retirement drawing nigh, says NBA stalwart Dirk Nowitzki

“This could be my last season, and this is surely my last appearance as an All-Star,” says the German, regarded as one of the best foreign players to have ever featured in the NBA.

Dirk Nowitzki is a 14-time All-Star, an NBA champion (2011), and ranks seventh on the list of all-time leading scorers. File Photo: Getty Images

During the course of his 21-year NBA career, Dirk Nowitzki piled up an enviable resume. He is a 14-time All-Star, an NBA champion (2011), ranks seventh on the list of all-time leading scorers, and much more. The German is regarded as one of the best foreign players to have ever featured in the NBA.

Nowitzki’s storied run is soon coming to an end, even though he has not officially announced his retirement yet. “This could be my last season, and this is surely my last appearance as an All-Star. It has been quite emotional this season. I received standing ovations at stadiums in Boston, New York, Indiana and other places. I’m humbled, and it’s something I’ll never forget. I was just a young kid who came out of nowhere 20 years ago, and now I’m getting standing ovations in opposition arenas,” Nowitzki said here.

‘Circle of life’

The 40-year-old, who has spent his entire NBA career with the Dallas Mavericks, joked about being the old man in his team. “My team-mates call me grandfather. I was once the one making fun of the old dudes. When I was 30, Jason Kidd was 36, and he used to get massages before and after the game. I would roll my eyes and say ‘Come on man, let’s get going already’. Now I’m the old man on the massage table. That’s the circle of life,” Nowitzki said.

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And what better place to make his All-Star swan song than Michael Jordan’s home state. Jordan is also the principal owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, and thus acts as the host of this All-Star weekend. “I’ve played many matches against Jordan, and I played at Jordan’s last All-Star game as well, in Atlanta (2003). I can tell my grandkids that I shared the court with the greatest player of all time,” he said.

Boon in disguise

Nowitzki recalled the start of his basketball journey, when he was spotted by acclaimed coach Holger Geschwindner at the age of 15. “I was lucky to meet the right people at the right time. Geschwindner taught me everything I know about the sport. And after that, it took a lot of dedication for me to reach this level,” he said.

The championship ring he received in 2011 stands out as the highlight. “In 2006, we lost the Finals to Dwayne Wade and his Miami Heat team. So it was great to get revenge on Wade and Miami when we beat them in the 2011 Finals. In a weird way, I’m happy that Wade defeated us in 2006, because that loss motivated me to become a better player,” Nowitzki said.

(The writer is in Charlotte on invitation from NBA)