Dirk Nowitzki has yet to make a definitive decision on whether he will retire at the end of this season. The Mavericks may not know what No. 41 is going to do but they are preparing a massive party for their final home game of the season, which is next Tuesday against the Suns.
“It’s going to be a special night whether he likes it or wants it or not,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said (via the latest newsletter from Marc Stein of The New York Times, which you can subscribe to here).
Stein sat down with Nowitzki to talk about his 21st season in the league. Here are some highlights from the conversation:
On how he’s feeling now compared to the middle of the season:
“It’s been a lot better. It was so hard to try to fight back in the middle of the season — for seven weeks I pretty much did nothing. I couldn’t really enjoy myself for most of December and January. If I don’t get that inflamed tendon in my foot, maybe I’m actually having a decent year. I worked hard to get back to a decent level where I could play and compete with the guys. The last few weeks, I’m moving better, I’m feeling better, I’m playing more minutes, so I’ve been able to enjoy my time again on the court.”
On getting to compete in the 2019 All-Star Game:
“I really enjoyed myself. Amazing weekend, and I’m really thankful to the league and the Commish for making that happen and having me and Dwyane in it. I said before that the All-Star Game is for the players who really deserve to be there and carry their teams and their franchises, so I went there with the mindset that I really don’t want to play that much…I just thought that if I go there and make one 3 that’ll be awesome. But obviously [Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer] subbed me in and the first look was kind of deep, and I shot it and it went in. The second one was even deeper and I thought: “Whynot? This will be your last time on this stage.” So I shot it and that one went in, too. It was definitely a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”
On the relationship he’s built with rookie Luka Doncic:
“He’s just such a confident young man that there’s not much you can really tell him. He’s got the experience, he’s got the confidence in crunchtime already — all that I had to work for…But off the floor, man, he is a kid. He’s never serious off the floor and obviously I’m not, either. He loves to have fun. We joke about everything and anything at all times. He’s just a funny dude. We enjoy our time together — I guess he took me under his wing.”
Nowitzki also talks to Stein about passing Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list and reflects on his 2018/19 numbers among other topics. The entire newsletter is worth a read.