Although Nowitzki's retirement had been largely expected, the 2007 NBA Most Valuable Player had not actually announced that this would be his final season unlike Dwyane Wade. "Everything else will be a surprise to me".
The 14-time All-Star has one game remaining, Dallas' season finale at San Antonio on Wednesday night. But Nowitzki appears to be on his way to ending an illustrious career in style.
Nowitzki, a few steps slower than in his prime and a role player on a team now led by rookie sensation and fellow European Luka Doncic, was serenaded in every road arena like it was a farewell tour. Earlier this season, Sports Illustrated's Jake Fischer explored how hard it was for Nowitzki to prepare for games as a 40-year-old. Some opposing fans chanted, "We want Dirk", late in games with outcomes decided and Nowitzki on the bench.
The 7-footer, who entered the league in the lockout-shortened 1999 season and revolutionized the power forward position, scored 10 points in the opening seven minutes and had 19 points on a season-high 18 shot attempts in the first half to power Dallas to a 68-38 halftime lead. The Mavericks won the game 120-109.
He broke Kobe Bryant's record of 20 seasons with the Lakers.
"This is my new home", Nowitzki said. Carter has played for eight teams.
Drafted straight out of Germany in 1998 as the ninth overall pick, then immediately traded from the Bucks to the Mavs for Robert "Tractor" Traylor, Nowitzki went on to etch his name in the National Basketball Association record books as the league's greatest European player. "The first thing people say is 'What's this guy like, what's this guy like?' Cause all of these guys are great players".
Nowitzki got the start against the Suns and one last roaring ovation from the Mavericks faithful in pregame introductions.