Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t want to go out like Kobe, with a gaudy farewell tour of the NBA. It’s not his style. But he’s getting one anyway because we love Dirk.

Dirk has always remained noncommittal on when he will leave the team, focusing only on the next game or the next road trip, taking it year to year. For a superstar, he sure doesn’t like the spotlight shined on him any more than it has to – he’d rather it focus in on the game.

For these reasons, he’s been quoted as saying he doesn’t want to put it out that he’s retiring and feel the pomp and circumstance of his career every night he plays. He doesn’t want compilation videos, or having to speak to crowds at every arena before every game, or getting weird parting gifts from each team. He just wants to enjoy playing until he can ride off into the sunset.

This year, though, it feels like Father Time might have actually caught up to Dirk as Charles Barkley intimated so many years ago. He’s coming off the bench for the first time since his rookie year. After his long rehab for his Achilles, he’s played in first halves of games or for really short stints. It does feel like the sun’s getting awfully low on Dirk’s horizon and this might be the year he hangs up his Mr. C-style white cowboy hat and retires.

Dirk just wants to enjoy what basketball he has left in him and so do his fans. All year, Dirk has been getting more love than ever, no matter where he goes as fans try to show 21 years of appreciation however they can. He may not want to celebrate his career yet, but fans and colleagues aren’t letting that stop them.

A Timeline of Love

Oct 5, 2018 – Beijing China

Mavs are in Beijing playing the 76ers for an enormous crowd and before the game begins, Dirk is gifted a guitar from his former Mavs teammate Wang Zhizhi. Of course, he accepted it graciously and had fun “playing” on the bench while he was still out rehabbing. This started the season off with a farewell tour-esque vibe even before Dirk was suiting up for the Mavs.

Nov 21, 2018 – Key to the City

Dirk Nowitzki receives the Key to the City of Dallas from Mayor Mike Rawlings. USA TODAY Sports Jerome Miron

Mayor Mike Rawlings gifted Dirk with a Key to the City of Dallas. Something Long overdue for the mayor, who had only given two before in his eight years as mayor, and for Dirk, who has given Dallas so much through community activism, charity and a freaking championship parade. Dirk was still inactive on the roster, but no one cared. This was an honor well deserved.

Dec 16, 2018 – Dirk’s 1st Home Game

Dirk started his season a few days prior when the Mavs were in Phoenix, but this was the welcome he received stepping back onto his court for the first time in front of MFFLs and they did not fail to show him love. Dirk only played eight minutes going 1-4 from the floor, but every time he touched the ball, the air sucked out of the room as Mavs fans hoped for one more special Dirk memory. (So far this season, this has been true at every game I’ve been to, and that makes me very proud to be an MFFL). The Mavs even showed a 20 year career retrospective on Dirk’s journey…

Sounds like the start of a farewell tour to me…

Just for gratification, here’s the sound of elation at Dirk’s first and only bucket on the night.

Jan 5, 2019 – Love from Boston

Dirk checked into the game with just over a minute left in the first and it was nearly as loud as when he first checked in back in December to start his season. Boston showed him the utmost respect for all of his time on the court. Dirk was two points away from holding the record for most points scored by a single opponent in The Garden (a record held by Kobe, of course), but he never managed to get those two. Even Brad Stevens got in on it saying, “I’ve rooted for the opponent to score two times in my life: Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki”.

They wanted him to have the record, even chanting “We want Dirk!” as the game came to a close. Boston showed Dirk as much love and class as he deserves.

Jan 23, 2019 – Dirk at All-Star Weekend?

And finally, yesterday it was announced by Marc Stein of ESPN that Dirk has been invited to participate in the 3 Point Contest All Star Weekend. The raw numbers don’t bear this out. Dirk is shooting 26.1% on 3s this year, making 12 of 46 attempted. That doesn’t get you to All Star Weekend, but we all know what’s going on. This is clearly a sign of respect and a desire for the league to show its appreciation for his contributions to basketball and so the league he’s given so much to give something back.

Whether he wants it or not, we’re going to celebrate the Mavs’ GOAT. His fans are doing it, his colleagues are doing it and the league is doing it. Dirk, just let us love you!!! MFFLs don’t want to see him go and its nice to see that the rest of the NBA feels the same way.

Featured Image: Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports
Videos: @DallasMavericks Twitter
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