Two and a half weeks ago at the “Meet your Mavericks” luncheon, Dirk Nowitzki spoke openly about the fact this his storied career is nearing its end. It’s a touchy subject, and the end of times for Dirk is drawing ever closer and though we would prefer he play forever, in just a few seasons the closest he’ll come to a fade-away at the American Airlines Center will be his statue in front of the arena.
Dirk told his teammates that his 17 years have “flown by” and it seemed like just yesterday former Mavericks owner Ross Perot had paid his own Mavericks employees to go to the airport and welcome the lanky, goofy haired 20-year from Wurzburg, Germany. Nowitzki encouraged his fellow teammates, all listening intently like the words coming from the Big German were of life or death importance, not to take his time for granted.
I gave a similar speech to a bunch of High School baseball players, but I assure you none of them were listening like the Mavericks were to Dirk. Or listening at all, but I gave that speech like a pro.
There’s a saying that “Father Time Always Wins,” but I’ll be damned because last night a 37 years, 4 months and 23 days old Dirk Nowitzki won the Dallas Mavericks a game against one of the most talked about teams in the league in arguably the most talked about game of the year. Yes, the Dallas Mavericks beat almost-Mav DeAndre Jordan and the Los Angeles Clippers last night.
“Dat Dood”, the “Big Daddy” and “Tall Baller From the G” was epic. Epic. He turned back the clock once again in this early season of no Mavericks expectations and poured in 31 points on 11-14 shooting, 5-6 from downtown and added 11 rebounds because all the sudden 37-year old Dirk can grab him some boards!
Obviously this game was circled on the calendar before it even had a place on it due to the DeAndre Jordan fiasco. But that clown aside, it’s a great Clippers team coming into the Mavs house with Dallas having lost two of their first three at home. And they got the job done.
A big reason was the play of Wesley Matthews, who despite being given permission to seek another deal when Jordan flip flopped back to the West Coast, stayed true to his word (crazy concept, I know. Bear with me) and became a Dallas Maverick. With his minutes restriction boosted to 30 as he continues to recover from a Torn Achilles suffered in March, the two-way guard set season season-highs of points (25), rebounds (6) and minutes (32:48).
But it was the face of the franchise, Dirk Nowitzki, that stole the spotlight in a game that certainly didn’t need another headline. Not only has Dirk been great this year, he’s been remarkably efficient. He’s averaging 18.9 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 53% from the field, 52% from the 3-point line and 91% from the free throw line in just 27.7 minutes.
He’s 23rd in the league in scoring, and every player above him except for LeBron James (age 30), Carmelo Anthony (age 30), Brook Lopez (27) and Kyle Lowry (29) are at least a decade younger. Only DeMarcus Cousins (29.6 minutes because George Karl hates him) and Isaiah Thomas(30.1 MPG) are playing around the 30 minute mark, while Dirk sits at 27.7. Crazy efficient.
Speaking of efficiency, Nowitzki’s 27.06 PER from ESPN’s John Hollinger is 8th best in the league. This guy is 37. He’s supposed to be the third wheel at best at this point. Which is an issue unto itself, but this is a happy article. Mostly…
The concern with Dirk is sustainability because yes, he’s 37 and has played 17 NBA seasons, 140 Playoff games and spent a lot of summers representing his country of Germany in various games like FIBA or the Olympics. He will surely have nights of rest along the way, but with the Mavericks still easing two starters back into things in Wesley Matthews (close!) and Chandler Parsons (not so close), the team has been placed on the worn out but still game ready shoulders of Dirk Nowitzki.
Sure, the Mavericks were supposed to have given Dirk some more help by now, scrapping the Championship team from four years ago, but my goodness is it fun to watch. this. guy. go. to. work.