Daily Sports Smile: Dallas Mavericks retire Dirk Nowitzki’s No. 41 jersey in special ceremony

Jan 5, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; Former Dallas Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki speaks to the fans as Nowitzki has his number 41 jersey retired after the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jaylon Thompson
USA TODAY Sports+

Dirk Nowitzki holds a special place in the Dallas Mavericks organization. The franchise icon is beloved by the Mavericks faithful and his impact is felt around the league. On Wednesday, Nowitzki received the ultimate honor as his No. 41 jersey was retired by the team.

“I always tried to respect everybody, have fun with everybody, not see myself as a bigger part of the puzzle,” Nowitzki said during the ceremony. “I always tried to make everybody feel comfortable. That was my style of leadership. Always joking around with everybody.”

Nowitzki is the third Mavericks player to have a jersey retired. He joins Brad Davis, Rolando Blackman and Derek Harper as the only players to receive the special honor. Nowitzki called the trio mentors and said they played a big role in his development.

In 21 seasons, Nowitzki became a leader himself. He spent his entire career with the Mavericks and led the team to the 2011 NBA Title. He was also a 14-time All-Star, 12-time All-NBA selection, and the 2006-2007 NBA MVP.

Several teammates showed their appreciation on Wednesday. Guys like Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, JJ Barea and Caron Butler were in attendance.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver was also on hand as well as Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd.

Jan 5, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; Former Dallas Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki watches with his family as his 41 jersey number is retired after the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had a special surprise. He told Nowitzki that he will have a statue outside the American Airlines Center one day.

“This will be in front of the arena or the next arena or the next arena,” Cuban told Nowitzki during the ceremony. “This is not because you helped us win a championship. This is because of who you are and what you have done, and we always want to recognize greatness with everything we do.”

The Mavericks played the Golden State Warriors during the game. The Warriors congratulated Nowitzki with a special video tribute. Several Warriors like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala expressed their gratitude.

“There’s only a few guys in the history of basketball that have changed the game the way you have,” Iguodala said.

The Mavericks defeated the Warriors 99-82 on Thursday. Luka Doncic led the way with 26 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. He told the Mavericks official website that Nowitzki receiving his honor was well deserved.

“He’s amazing person and one of the most humble superstars, and that’s what makes him great,” Doncic said after the game. “Everything that happens to him, he deserves. And the (No. 41) banner was just amazing.”