SAN ANTONIO (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Dirk Nowitzki bid farewell to the NBA Wednesday night as the Mavericks took on the Spurs in San Antonio in the final regular season game of the 2018-19 season.
Nowitzki scored a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes of action.
He nailed a jumper with less than a minute to go and Coach Rick Carlisle then took him out of the game where he was greeted with hugs by his teammates.
After the game, Nowitzki said, “They say an athlete dies twice. It’s gonna be tough not doing something you’ve done for over 20 years.”
The Spurs started the night with a video tribute to Dirk and when the public address announcer introduced him for the final time, Dirk shed some tears.
It was only fitting that Nowitzki’s final game came against the Spurs, who he has had many memorable battles against during the regular season and postseason.
Perhaps the most memorable was the 2006 Western Conference finals against San Antonio. After the Spurs battled back from a 3-1 series deficit and a 20-point lead in Game 7, Manu Ginobili fouled Nowitzki on a layup with 21.6 seconds remaining.
Nowitzki made the free throw to forge a tie and the Mavs went on to win in overtime on the way to the franchise’s first NBA Finals appearance.
After the game, as Nowitzki walked to the locker room, CBS 11 Sports reporter Keith Russell shot video and tweeted, “So long … better yet see ya later to the greatest player in @dallasmavs history. #Dirk leaving the court one last time @CBSDFW @CBS11Sports”
Keith also tweeted from Coach Rick Carlisle’s post game news conference. “On his final embrace on the court with #Dirk. Rick Carlisle says he’s blown away by respect opposing crowds showed him. It’s heartwarming but empty. He’s thankful #DirkNowitzki ended magnificent career with magnificent show of grace”
Nowitzki averaged 15.3 minutes and started 20 games this season, the lowest numbers of his career.
He started 24 games as a rookie while playing 20.4 minutes.
Nowitzki has played 38 games in San Antonio, tied for the third-highest total of any player.
Utah legends Karl Malone and John Stockton each played 46 games in San Antonio. Denver’s Alex English played 39 and Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon played 38.
The Mavericks lost to the Spurs 105-94 on Wednesday night and ended the season with a 33-49 record.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)