Dirk Nowitzki did not have to conduct a final season-ending exit interview with the coaches, so of course he did.
And after having met with the media extensively over the previous two days, Dirk did not have to chat with the phalanx of reporters the day after his 21st season just ended. So of course he did.
For the final time, Dirk Nowitzki walked out to meet with the media on Thursday morning at the American Airlines Center as a player for the Dallas Mavericks. There was an atypically large group of media there on Thursday.
The next time we see him, most likely for his annual Heroes Baseball game in Frisco, he will be an ex-Mav.
While Dirk had a reputation of taking his time, never once did he blow off his responsibilities or duck his duties as the face of the Dallas Mavericks. Never did Dirk big-time, or have an ugly spat, with the media. He always “got” it.
In his 21 years of playing in the NBA, the man had an unfailingly polite and professional relationship with the men and women who covered and dealt with him. No one is perfect, but in this area Dirk is a dunk.
On behalf of everyone who has dealt with him, or done this job, thank you, Dirk.
He made every one of these jobs more interesting, entertaining, and easier. He never lied. He could almost be too honest. He was always there after every game.
He spoiled all of us to the core.
He was always courteous with the “Talk about ...” questions to even the more specific queries about a game, strategy, or his thoughts about his team. He was so patient and respectful, even to the dumbest question. And there were a lot.
People justifiably hate the media, but it’s a necessary evil, especially in sports where coverage functions as free advertising for a league, or organization. The media is part of the game, and Dirk grasped that.
Dirk’s career is Hall of Fame, and his personality is better than his game. He probably said yes too much, and the Mavs likely took advantage of his loyalty and go-with-it nature. If this year is any indication, Dirk will forever be remembered because of what he did on the court; he will be beloved, cherished and revered for his kindness, and for always being there.
His personality is one of the biggest reasons why so many members of the media quietly celebrated when he won the 2011 NBA title, and wish him well now that he is done.
On Thursday, long time Mavericks reporter Dwain Price asked Dirk why he is this way.
“I don’t know,” Dirk said. “My family is supportive, and kept me grounded when I was getting carried away. They brought me back down. They built me up when I was struggling. Maybe it was the way I was raised with family values. I never try to take myself too seriously. Just try to treat people with respect, and try to treat people how you’d like to be treated.”
He said it, and he meant it.
There are 21,000 reasons we will all miss Dirk Nowitzki the player, and 41,000 more reasons we will all miss Dirk Nowitzki the person.
On behalf of everyone who ever stuck a microphone or camera in front of you to ask a question, thank you.