On Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers made a kind gesture toward perhaps the best player to ever wear a Dallas Mavericks jersey.
It takes a lot to get Los Angeles Lakers to get up on their feet and applaud for something not related to their team. Sunday afternoon was one of those rare moments and it was certainly justifiable.
Needless to say, Sunday’s contest was not necessarily one Lakers fans want to cling onto. It marked the team’s third loss of the season at the hands of the pesky Dallas Mavericks.
Despite the loss, the Staples Center faithful was given quite a treat. Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki was in attendance and the Lakers took full advantage of his presence.
The purple and gold took the time to exhibit a touching tribute video for Nowitzki on the jumbotron. For those who may have forgotten, Nowitzki retired this past season after spending all 21 years of his career with Dallas. No player in NBA history invested more time with a single franchise than Dirk.
Per transcription from Mark Medina of USA Today, the iconic European athlete did not expect the Lakers to do what they did. He commented that he was “humbled” by the gesture the team made.
“I had no idea the Lakers were going to do that,” Nowitzki said. “I’m super honored and humbled.”
The fact that Nowitzki felt the way he did says a fair deal about his character. Albeit he appreciated the attention, he is clearly not the type of person who is into himself.
While last season was his final one as an NBA player, he did not want cameras shining on him for that reason. He just wanted the focus to be on basketball.
On that note, it is only appropriate the Lakers did what they did. Who knows when such an opportunity would have existed again, so to pay their respects toward Dirk was nice on their part.
According to Medina, the video featured current Lakers star LeBron James and five-time champion Kobe Bryant. James called Dirk “one of my favorite players,” whereas Bryant said he was “a big fan” of the 7-footer.
The tribute video depicted the type of player Nowitzki was rather well. In spite of his size, he was better known for his silky stroke than for throwing down thunderous dunks.
With respect to his silky stroke, he was renowned for his fadeaway shot off one leg. Granted it was somewhat unorthodox appearance wise, Nowitzki used that weapon of his effectively.
The man really set the tone for how the league is currently built. A lot of teams rely on their bigs nowadays to stretch the floor. Certainly, the Germany native fit that mold throughout his storied basketball career.
It is interesting the video showcased James and Bryant in particular. While Dirk had his fair share of battles with them, his best accomplishment came during the 2010-11 season.
Nowitzki led the Mavericks to a series win against Bryant’s Lakers during the Western Conference semifinals. During that same postseason run, the Mavs managed to take down a stacked Miami Heat team led by LBJ in the Finals.
Nowitzki was later asked about Kobe and LeBron, revealing that it was always a joy to play against them. Medina transcribed what the 7-footer said about the two iconic players.
“Kobe and LeBron were always two of my favorites to watch and compete against. They know how to prepare with how they’re ready, how they compete every game and their skill level. Definitely two of the best to ever do it.”
In comparison to Bryant and James, the Mavericks legend has never received the same amount of praise. It is not all of his fault provided that Los Angeles is media central. He has never been swarmed in the manner the other two have.
Although that is true, he deserves more praise than he tends to get. Let alone being an NBA champion, he was an All-Star 14 times and made a dozen All-NBA teams.
No. 41 was eventually asked if he ever had any plans to return to professional basketball. In his response, he was sure to note where he is at physically.
“I wish, but my foot is not great,” Nowitzki said. “My health is not there anymore where it needs to be to compete and go up and down every day. From that standpoint, last year was already tough. It took some of the fun away. Just not being able to do the moves I wanted to make.”
Even though Dirk’s career is in the books, what he did for the game of basketball will never be forgotten. As of now, he is the league’s sixth all-time leading scorer.
To think things over for a spell and consider that this may have been the NBA’s best international player ever says a lot. Thus, the Lakers did the proper thing in terms of honoring Dirk Nowitzki. Their team has had a plethora of talented players, so they know greatness when they see it.