COLOGNE, Germany – Dirk Nowitzki is now retired to two continents.
Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks legend, whose number 41 was lifted to the crossbar at the American Airlines Center last season, was similarly honored by the German Basketball League on Thursday during the opening day of EuroBasket 2022.
Nowitzki becomes the first German basketball player to retire. The ceremony took place in front of a sold-out crowd at Lanxess Arena, where his number 14 will be hanged forever, before Germany vs France. Nowitzki played 153 internationals for the German national team, playing for his country during the off-season for most of his 21-year NBA career. He won the MVP titles at EuroBasket 2005 and the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2002, taking Germany to second and third place respectively. He also led Germany to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, an achievement he said ranks among his proudest basketball moments, alongside the Mavericks 2010-11 championship.
“For me it’s been an unforgettable journey,” Nowitzki told the crowd in German, waiting for “MVP!” concept to be silent before making his speech. “A lot of you have gone to major events and supported us. It’s been an unforgettable journey for you, and I want to say thank you.”
Superstar Mavericks Luka Doncic, whose Slovenian national team beat Lithuania in a match just before Nowitzki was honored, watched the ceremony in a chair next to governor Mark Cuban and head coach Jason Kidd, his former teammate. Nowitzki. Others on the Mavericks team include general manager Nico Harrison, director of player health and performance Casey Smith and vice president Michael Finley, who starred for Dallas in Nowitzki’s early years. Nowitzki specially thanked Cuban, the only time he spoke English during the ceremony.
“You guys always support me to play every summer,” Nowitzki said. “You know it’s important for me to represent the country and I really appreciate that.” Cuban told ESPN that the ceremony was: “Elevated morale. So proud of him. It’s amazing when you see someone who works hard and is a good human being achieve their dreams.”