Bigger than reality: Nowitzki gets his statue in Dallas

Updated on 12/23/2022 at 11:39 a.m.

  • For Dirk Nowitzki, the year 2022 ends as it began: with a great honor at the Dallas Mavericks.
  • On Christmas Day, his legendary throw will be unveiled as a statue in front of the arena.

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At the Christmas kiosks Dirk Nowitzki again to the point. The German basketball icon, now 44, doesn’t like it in principle, but love for the Dallas Mavericks leaves him no choice. And the occasion isn’t so bad either: nearly four years after the end of his career as an NBA professional, his statue will be unveiled on Sunday (6:00 p.m. CET) in front of the American Airlines Center in Dallas. “Hopefully this is the last honor I get,” Nowitzki said months ago.

But nothing will come of it. Because it was only announced on Wednesday that the Würzburg player will most likely be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame next year.

No one doubts the man whose iconic backhand shot not only inspired the statue but changed the sport as a whole will be elected to the Hall of Fame. Champion, number six in the list of all-time scorers, most valuable player – Nowitzki left deep marks in the NBA.

Nowitzki’s Hall of Fame inclusion expected

US media reported, citing various data, that there was a 100% chance he would give another speech on August 12 in Springfield, Massachusetts – the home of the Hall of Fame.

But first, fans will cheer on Christmas Day in Dallas ahead of the home game against the Los Angeles Lakers led by national team captain Dennis Schröder, when the Nowitzki-Way, already named in his honor , will be closed to traffic on the way to the hall for the unveiling of the statue.

For the father of three, Nowitzki, the year 2022 ends as it began: Because on January 6, the Mavericks gave him an emotional day when his jersey with the number 41 went under the roof of the hall and has not been released to anyone else since May. The one-legged jump shot, which every sane NBA professional must have in their repertoire these days, is also graphically immortalized on the lobby floor. “It’s absolutely surreal, and seeing the statue one day makes me super proud,” he said at the ceremony, which Mavericks owner Mark Cuban pulled out all the stops for.

Nowitzki was the only German to be named MVP

Role models like Larry Bird and Charles Barkley were there, great career moments flashed through the video cube – with the 2011 championship as the culmination of his 21 years in the jersey of the Mavericks. Never before has a player played for a single NBA team for so long. Nowitzki ranks sixth among the players with the most points in NBA history and was the only German to be voted the most valuable player of the season in the 2006/2007 season.

Between the shirt ceremony and the unveiling of the statue, Nowitzki enjoyed an exciting year with a significantly larger public presence in Germany than when he was playing. As an ambassador for the European Championship, he was there when his successors in the jersey of the German Basketball Association won bronze this summer and sparked euphoria.

The DBB also honored his services before the opening game of the European Championship with a shirt ceremony and no longer assigns the number 14. “Anyone who has anything to do with basketball knows who Dirk is It’s one of the best of all time,” Maxi Kleber said a few months ago.

Respect for Nowitzki far beyond the borders of Germany

This respect extends far beyond the borders of Germany or Dallas. “To sit next to Michael Jordan is great – LeBron James. But to have the opportunity next to Dirk, who paved the way for all of us. It’s more than an incredible feeling for me,” had said Greek Giannis Antetokounmpo when he was the only European to make the 75 greatest players in NBA history list alongside Nowitzki.

So now the statue, which will certainly be taller than the 2.13 meters that Nowitzki measures. “Dirk has done so much for our game and our city,” Mavs owner Cuban said. “To show our appreciation, we want to make sure his throwing and his legacy in Dallas will be forever remembered.” (dpa/lh)

On the night of January 6, basketball player Dirk Nowitzki was honored by his former club, the Dallas Mavericks, by pulling his number 41 jersey under the roof of the hall. The number must then never be assigned again. A look back at the life and career of this exceptional talent.

teaser image: © Federico Gambarini/dpa

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