Dirk Nowitzki’s contract with the Dallas Mavericks is set to expire at season’s end, but the 35-year-old veteran—who has spent his entire career with the Mavs—can’t envision himself playing for another NBA team.
The 12-time All-Star continued to display his rare character trait of loyalty by saying the following per Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer:
I basically grew up in Dallas. I came over here at 19 or 20 and now I’m 35. I’ve spent half of my life here. It is important for me to be a Maverick because I have deep connections with this franchise. The fans supported me through disappointing playoff losses. They were always by my side as I grew as a player. I can’t see myself playing for another franchise.
Unlike other NBA stars that are still chasing elusive championship rings, the former MVP already led the Mavericks to a title in 2011.
It appeared as if those dreams were dashed in 2007 when Baron Davis and the gritty Golden State Warriors upset the No. 1 seed Mavericks in the first round. It then happened again in 2010 when a 55-win Mavs team was knocked off by the No. 7 seed San Antonio Spurs in Round 1.
Through it all, Dirk kept fighting. His effort and attitude was rewarded when he won it all three years ago, but Dallas has been an organization in limbo since then.
That decision was the tip of the iceberg, as only two members of the 2011 team (Nowitzki and Shawn Marion) remain.
The Mavericks made free-agent runs at point guard Deron Williams and All-Star center Dwight Howard in the meantime but came up empty on both counts. Instead, they reloaded for the 2013-14 season with Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Monta Ellis.
Dirk’s elite level of play has Dallas in the thick of the Western Conference playoff hunt, but the supporting cast simply doesn’t stack up with teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
Still, imagining Nowitzki in a different NBA uniform is a foreign concept, and one that likely won’t happen.
As ESPN’s Tim MacMahon wrote in a February mailbag:
I’d take Dirk Nowitzki at his word on this one, and he’s consistently said that he’ll never wear another NBA uniform. […] The plan is still for Nowitzki to take a significant pay cut -- we’ll find out exactly what that means this summer, and I’m not sure Nowitzki even has a number in mind yet -- and re-sign with the Mavs for two or three more years. He desperately wants to compete for another championship, but he’s dead set on doing it in Dallas.
He wants to compete for a second NBA title, but the Mavericks' front office is more than a few tweaks away from making that a reality before Dirk retires.