Dallas Mavericks

Is this it? Dirk Nowitzki on being the ‘old man,’ the ovations and his future

Dirk Nowitzki has been receiving a departing legend’s welcome where ever he plays this season.

It happened again Friday night when he was announced as an honorary coach at the Rising Stars game in Charlotte, N.C., and will undoubtedly happen again when he’s introduced for his final NBA All-Star game on Sunday night.

But one thing still remains unresolved: Is this the Dallas Mavericks legend’s final season in the NBA?

Nowitzki reminded reporters again during Saturday’s All-Star Weekend media day that he’ll wait to make the decision to see how his body feels.

“The fans have shown me a lot of love already on the road, even though I obviously haven’t announced that this is going to be it,” Nowitzki said. “I want to see how my body feels the last couple of weeks. If I get to see any improvement, if it’s still fun, and I guess we’re going to make that decision later.”

The responses from fans in Eastern Conference cities where the Mavs play just once a year, have been especially meaningful for Nowtizki.

“Fans gave me standing ovations coming in. For me, that’s still super emotional,” he said. “As a kid, I came from nowhere in Germany 20 years ago, and now get standing ovations in opposing arenas. That’s incredible, and I’m humbled by it. That’s something that I’ll never forget.”

Before he was even asked a question, Nowitzki flashed his deadpan sense of humor.

“I’m getting old. This doesn’t get old,” he said. “This is great to be here. Just enjoying the stage one more time. For sure my last, obviously, at an All-Star [Weekend]. So it’s been fun.”

Nowitzki, who turns 41 in June, has embraced being the “old man” in the locker room.

“I love it. In the locker room there are jokes going around every day,” he said. “They do call me abuelo and grandfather and all sorts of things. I enjoy it. I was the young guy once making fun of the old guys. Now I’m the old man laying on the rehab table. That’s the circle of life.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.