Dirk Nowitzki had to play his final game on the road but the San Antonio Spurs made sure it was special.
In a fluke of scheduling, Dirk Nowitzki spent Tuesday night in Dallas, being celebrated by the fans he had inspired and lifted up for 21 seasons. And then, he had to travel to San Antonio to play his final game on the road, against a team who more than once had played the part of playoff foil and spoiler to the championship aspirations of Nowitzki and the Mavericks.
But the Spurs are nothing if not classy and aware of the importance of both their own culture and the larger NBA culture that surrounds it. The Spurs already had a playoff spot locked up and so they seemed more than happy to spend the last game of their own season celebrating one of the most worthy adversaries they’ve ever faced.
The tribute video the Spurs made for him before the game is a thing of beauty, the ultimate sign of respect.
And as Dirk loaded up for his last shot, you can see Gregg Popovich in the background waving the help defender away, then clapping happily as that beautiful rainbow drops through the hoop one more time.
Across his entire career, regular season and playoffs, Dirk played the Spurs 110 times, amassing 2,232 points, 931 rebounds and 251 assists. It seems fitting that the last image we’ll get of him in NBA action is drilling a jumper over a Spur.
Thank you to Dirk for 21 years of incredible accomplishments and seeming to enjoy every moment of it. And thank you to the San Antonio Spurs for helping to bring out the best in him and having the awareness to make his last night so special for everyone.