CHARLOTTE, USA – With 3:36 remaining in the game and a lull in a blowout game versus the Charlotte Hornets, fans inside the Spectrum Center started chanting, “We want Dirk! We want Dirk!”
They were clearly egging on Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle to put the 20-year veteran in the game.
Nowitzki smiled, stood up and waved to the crowd, who greeted him with cheers and applause.
With a game decided already in the 4th quarter for the Mavs, fans at Spectrum Center were chanting, "We Want Dirk!"@swish41 stands up and acknowledges the crowd.@RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/3MBp20ISEZ— Paul Mata (@matapaul) January 3, 2019
“That was nice,” Nowitzki said in his post-game interview when asked about the crowd chanting for him. “I didn’t know there were so many Mavs fans here in Charlotte.”
“It’s always humbling to know that you’ve done something in the last two decades. That was a nice moment for me.”
Fans had flocked into the venue two hours before the game even tipped-off just to watch Dirk do his pre-game warm-ups.
There was a group of friends holding up a German flag as Nowitzki did some pre-game warm-ups with rookie Luka Doncic.
Some were wearing their Nowitzki jersey hoping that he would sign them. Another was holding on a basketball card and a poster.
After 10 minutes, he headed to the dugout but not before signing some autographs and having selfies with fans.
As he entered the game at the 3:17 mark of the first quarter, he received cheers from the 16,955 in attendance when his name was announced.
He tallied 6 points, including a three-point shot that the home crowd cheered for, and 2 rebounds in 6 minutes of game play.
Clearly, he’s still recovering from a left ankle surgery that kept him out from the start of the current season and continues to manage his recovery.
But he continues to play the game.
This is Nowitzki’s 21st season with the Mavericks franchise, beating out LA Lakers great Kobe Bryant for the league’s record for most seasons played in a single franchise.
However, Dirk refused to reveal his decision about possible retirement.
“I didn’t say that yet. We’ll see how the rest of the season goes. I’ll make a decision this summer whether it will be the last or not.”
“I try to enjoy the last couple of months that I’m here. Obviously, I missed over a month [due to injuries] and that was really kind of frustrating because I wanted to be out there.”
“We’ll see. We’ll see how the rest of the season goes and if my body holds up and we can make another decision.” – Rappler.com