Dirk Nowitzki happy to have perfect All-Star finale
All Dirk Nowitzki wanted to do was play a few minutes, hit a 3-pointer or two and call it a night.
The Dallas Mavericks legend, playing in his 14th and final NBA All-Star Game Sunday night, quickly checked that off and then some.
Team LeBron [James] went on a 30-9 run in the fourth quarter to come back to beat Team Giannis [Antetokounmpo] 178-164 at the Spectrum Center in downtown Charlotte.
Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 38 points on 17 of 23 shooting. Kevin Durant, who was selected MVP, led Team LeBron with 31 points on 10 of 15 shooting, including 6 of 9 on 3-pointers.
Nowitzki, 40, who could be playing his final season in the league, connected on all three of his 3-point attempts in the first half and received a big cheer from the appreciate Spectrum Center crowd each time.
“That was obviously awesome. The first one I was a little deep, and I let it ride, all in, last time on this stage, might as well try it and then it went in,” Nowitzki said. “Then the second one was kind of the same, stepped back a little bit more.
“It was a great feeling to be out there on this stage one more time and enjoy it and talk to trash to my teammates and the other guys. It was a fun weekend. I tried to enjoy myself as much as I could.”
Nowitzki and fellow honorary All-Star Dwyane Wade, who announced he’ll retire after the season, both entered the game late in the first quarter. Nowitzki smiled giddily when his first shot fell and TNT mics caught him thanking one of his young teammates for an assist.
“Appreciate it, kid,” he said.
As he came off the floor he slapped high-fives with his teammates. “That’s what I do, baby, that’s’ what I do,” he said.
Between the third and fourth quarters, Nowitzki and Wade were presented framed All-Star Game jerseys by the NBA.
“Those guys look good to be in the league for so long and still playing at a high level,” Durant said. “And Dirk to play 20 years in the NBA is just ridiculous. For them to be honored tonight, it was cool to be a part of.”
Nowitzki played for just under four minutes, all in the first half, finishing with nine points.
Although he hasn’t yet announced his retirement, his postgame comments sure sounded like a legend saying goodbye.
“When you play for 20, 21 years you play with a lot of teammates,” he said. “I’ve been blessed with a lot of great ones who I’ll remember and stay in touch with for the rest of my life, especially the 2011 championship team.”