DALLAS - Twenty-one seasons and a nagging ankle injury convinced Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki to call it quits.
Dirk dominated his last home game with the only NBA franchise he's ever played for.
No. 41 scored the first 10 points in Tuesday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns and ended up with a season-high 30 points. He even got a dunk in before the 120-109 win.
But at the end of the game, Dirk made the announcement many knew would be coming. He made his retirement official by saying: "As you know, this is my last home game."
Dirk said his decision to retire came only in the last few days even though many people assumed it was inevitable.
He began seriously considering it when his lower body gave him issues late in the season. He was having flare-ups in his feet and ankles. He also missed the first 26 games after undergoing ankle surgery last April, which ended up being a longer than expected recovery.
Dirk has had other injuries over the years. Back in 2012, he had surgery on his right knee that was also a hard recovery for him which took longer than six weeks. He used a knee brace after that, saying it helped prolong his career.
But now at 40 years old, it has taken a toll.
“It takes a lot at 40 to get ready every night and obviously with the pain it took a little bit of the fun away… made the decision easier for me,” he said.
Dirk said that while his time with the Mavs is coming to an end, his time in Dallas is not. He told the crowd he left Germany 20 years ago and became a Texan.
“You know, I’ll never be gone. I’ll stay here. This is my new home with my wife and my kids,” he said.
Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf were all helped honor Dirk after the game. They are some of the NBA legends he said he idolized growing up in Germany.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spoke after the game and promised Dirk a job with the team for life. He also said he plans to retire the number 41.
Fans celebrated Dirk’s amazing career, cheering throughout the game and giving him a standing ovation every time he scored. Some wishfully changed “one more year.”
Fans, athletes and public figures from across the country are now showing their appreciation for what he’s done for the game.
Former President George W. Bush congratulated him on a great career and then jokingly added that if he gets bored with retirement he can join him in painting. The City of Dallas also thanked him for 21 years of giving back to the community on and off the court.
Dirk will play his last game of the season and his career Wednesday night in San Antonio.