Nowitzki had missed the team's last three preseason games, citing swelling in his right knee as the cause. After being optimistic that rest and rehab would help repair whatever wear and tear his body was going through, Nowitzki and the team's medical staff instead opted for surgery.
The Mavericks, who made this announcement somewhat out of nowhere, will now be without their best player and first-ballot Hall of Famer for the first month of the regular season.
Eye on Basketball helped break the news through Twitter on Friday:
Mavericks (out of the blue) announce Dirk Nowitzki underwent arthroscopic surgery this morning. Out six weeks.— Eye on Basketball (@EyeOnBasketball) October 19, 2012
While the decision to have surgery comes as a shock to the basketball world, the knee has been bothering Nowitzki since Dallas hit the road for its overseas preseason tour.
After playing in Dallas' first preseason game against Alba Berlin in his home country of Germany, Nowitzki was suddenly unavailable as the team traveled to Spain to take on FC Barcelona. Stateside, he has missed the last two games against NBA opponents the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns.
It's the first time Nowitzki has had surgery in his 14-year NBA career.
After struggling to find his footing early on in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, Nowitzki's slow start prompted analysts like Charles Barkley to wonder if "Father Time" had caught up with the blond bomber.
Nowitzki responded by finishing the season eighth in scoring at 21.6 points per game, though his rebound totals and shooting percentage both tumbled towards career lows.
Dallas and Nowitzki apparently wanted to fix any kind of later flare-ups with the right knee and decided to sew things up for good rather than put a band-aid over the issue.
Elton Brand will likely join the starting lineup until Nowitzki is able to return.