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- Dirk Nowitzki has been receiving farewell ovations from opposing crowds throughout the season.
- Monday was the latest example, as Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers called a timeout late in the game, then got on the PA mic to tell fans to applaud Nowitzki.
- Nowitzki has never officially said that he is retiring.
The Dirk Nowitzki farewell tour continued on Monday when Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers made a classy gesture to the 40-year-old legend.
With just 9 seconds remaining in the Clippers’ 121-112 win, Rivers called a sudden timeout. He then got on the PA mic and told fans to give Nowitzki an ovation.
It was the latest instance of the NBA world paying respect to Nowitzki, who is considered the greatest European player, an MVP, champion, top-10 all-time scorer, 14-time All-Star, and future Hall of Famer.
There is just one problem with this outpouring of love – Nowitzki has never said he’s retiring.
Nowitzki will turn 41 this offseason and is in the last year of his contract. He’s become one of the least mobile players in the NBA, something about which he frequently jokes. Naturally, he’s now less effective on the offensive end and a liability on the defensive end.
Still, as opposed to Dwyane Wade, who signaled that this season would be his “last dance,” Nowitzki has never made an official retirement announcement. He even joked after the Clippers game that fans are deciding for him.
“They’re making the decision for me, I guess,” Nowitzki said (via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon). “We’ll see what the rest of the season brings, but it’s been great. I mean, really emotional in some of these buildings. The reception from the fans has been incredible. Much love, for sure.”
As on Monday, Nowitzki has received ovations in opposing arenas, with opponents frequently being asked about his impact on the game and the league.
Even NBA Commissioner Adam Silver seems to be pushing Nowitzki out. During his 2019 All-Star Weekend press conference, Silver was asked about including Nowitzki and Wade on the All-Star rosters as honorary members – Wade has announced this is his last season; Nowitzki hasn’t – and cracked a joke about Nowitzki’s mobility.
“I saw him painfully running up and down the court, and I think it was clear that this was going to be his last season,” Silver said.
Perhaps another season will be too much for Nowitzki to endure. But if he comes back for one more year, things might get awkward at some arenas.