As the Clippers dribbled out a 121-112 victory, Rivers called a timeout with 9.4 seconds to play. He then grabbed a microphone from the public address announcer and urged fans to show the visiting star some love in what could be his final trip to town:
"That was just, we had a lead, and I had a timeout," Rivers said after the game. "Honestly, I didn't plan it. I just felt like he deserved that. You know what's funny, was it Miami? I thought we didn't give [Dwyane] Wade, like it was a close game, and I think they won the game, and Wade played like he should play five more years—so I wasn't going to let that happen again. I just did it."
Nowitzki felt honored, saying: "It was sweet. I'm really appreciative. At first, I was like, 'Why is Doc calling a timeout? What's he doing with [9.4] seconds left? What's he up to?' Then he grabbed the mic. I didn't really understand much, but that was really humbling. That was an emotional moment."
Mavs owner Mark Cuban also appreciated the classy gesture:
The 40-year-old Nowitzki has not committed to retirement just yet. During the All-Star break earlier this month, he said that he wanted to see how his body felt down the stretch before he decided if he would return for a 22nd season.
"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 told reporters. "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."
Cuban told 105.3 The Fan earlier this month that this season has felt like a goodbye tour for his longtime star. However, he made it clear that Nowitzki can do whatever he wants, as the 2011 NBA Finals MVP has "earned" that right.