Nowitzki Doesn’t Plan to Go Out Like Kobe Bryant
Father Time is undefeated. Future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant was the latest victim, but even he couldn’t stop the legend from scoring 60 points in an emotional farewell this week. But as the clock continues to tick, there are more guys whose shelf life is nearing their respective expiration dates.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Vince Carter, all former franchise players, are potentially the next in line for a final curtain call. Each, while still playing a pivotal role for their respective team (in one way, shape or form), are shells of their former dominant selves.
Dirk Nowitzki, on the other hand, enters the playoffs as the Dallas Mavericks’ best player. The 37-year-old averaged 18.3 points and 6.5 rebounds on 45 percent shooting from the floor this season while playing 75 contests and logging 31.5 minutes a night.
Nowitzki took notice of the yearlong farewell tour Bryant received and admired the 60-point outburst in his finale. However, he says when it’s his time to go, he’ll leave on a much different note.
“Even got some goose bumps there at the end when [Bryant] completely took that game over,” Nowitzki recently told The Afternoon Show with Tim Cowlishaw and Matt Mosley on KESN-FM 103.3. “I don’t want to go into a season knowing this is my last. I’m going to go from summer to summer and re-evaluate how the body feels after the season. So I don’t think I’m going to have this whole tour where everybody knows I’m going to retire. I’m just going to play as long as I can… It’s going to be, hopefully, a few more years down the road, and then, like I said, when I’m gone, I’m gone.”
Nowitzki holds a player option worth $8.7 million for next season and even if he opted out of the deal, there’s little chance he’d leave Dallas for another destination at this point. But Nowitzki has been very candid about his looming retirement and understands there’s not much time remaining in his own Hall of Fame career. Like Bryant, Nowitzki has played his entire career with one franchise.
The Mavericks are slated to play the Oklahoma City Thunder in round one of the playoffs. Nowitzki has missed the playoffs just three times in 18 seasons. Game 1 between Dallas and Oklahoma City tips off Saturday at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Stephen Curry Embracing the Role of Ambassador
The departure of Kobe Bryant is one of those moments where you can finally reflect on the impact he had on the game. Whether you love or hate Bryant, you’d be hard pressed not to respect what he accomplished in his 20-year NBA career.
The passing of the torch started a few years prior to Bryant hanging up his high tops, but the impact is clear.
One guy on his ascent into superstardom, reigning MVP Stephen Curry, is starting to realize and understand that his name will be in the same realm if he continues dominating.
“I was watching some show where they were talking about Kobe’s last game,” Curry told USA TODAY Sports. “And (they talked about) the fans who were my age, or a little younger, who didn’t get to see (Michael) Jordan play much but they saw Kobe play his whole career. … That was like passing the torch to him, (or) obviously LeBron (James) or whatever.
“For the youth that are watching today’s game and where it is, that would be something very special, in 15 or 20 years, (to) hear stories of kids growing up watching me play and being inspired by what I do on the floor, and how I play the game and what not. I have certain guys who I looked up to. Jordan, Kobe, those guys. Passing that on, doing my part to kind of keep that influence of basketball where it should be is kind of why I play the game.”
Curry led the Golden State Warriors to a regular-season-record 73 victories after coming off of a title-winning and MVP campaign last year. The guard is basically a shoe in for his second MVP this season and has Golden State in strong position to pull off a title repeat.
The Warriors begin their repeat quest versus the Houston Rockets in round one. Game 1 between Golden State and Houston tips off Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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