By Dorothy J. Gentry, Sports Editor, Texas Metro News
Charlotte – It was a family affair for Dirk Nowitzki in what was likely his last-ever NBA All-Star appearance. “My wife is here, my friends. The whole crew is here one more time. I was on the stage for the last time, so it’s been great.
My brother-in-law is here; he came to support,” Nowitzki said of NBA All-Star Weekend held in Charlotte, North Carolina. “So I had fun. I look forward to closing out this weekend out on a high. Then go back home and finish the season strong.”
The 40-year-old Nowitzki kept a busy weekend in Charlotte – serving as coach of the World Team for the Rising Stars Challenge – in which he coached teammate Luka Doncic – participated in the 3-point contest and participated in the All-Star Game on Sunday night as part of Team Giannis.
The NBA paid homage to the League legend, with large signs and posters in hotels and all over the downtown area near the site of the Spectrum Center where All-Star festivities took place.
He scored 17 points in the 3-point contest but did not make the finals. He won the contest in 2005-2006. In Sunday’s All-Star Game – he drained 3, 3 pointers in 4 minutes – a performance that had the bench and crowd at Spectrum Center on its feet. He finished with nine points for Team Giannis during their 178-164 loss to Team LeBron.
During the 3rd quarter he and Dwayne Wade – who has already announced his retirement from the League this year -were presented with honorary framed All-Star jerseys.
After the game, Dirk was swamped by players, fans, media and more are offering handshakes, hugs and well-wishes. He and they knew it would probably be his last All-Star Game.
“I wanted to just play a few minutes and hoist up a three and that’s exactly what happened. The first one, I was a little deep. But it’s the last time on this stage, I’m going to go for it, and it went in,” said Nowitzki, who was the oldest All-Star in attendance in Charlotte.
“The second one I thought, Let me step back a little more and see what happens, and it went in too. It was a fun all around weekend for me. It was a pleasure to compete with these guys one more time on this stage. We got honored in between the third and fourth quarter and that was emotional. It was great weekend for me.”
Nowitzki acknowledged that when things quiet down, he’ll take time to reflect. “Yeah, I think all that is going to be emotional once I sit back and get some time to think. But this weekend, I was just out there competing,” he said.
“It was fun and the whole week was great. They had me running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Friday, I was coaching. Saturday, I was shooting [in the 3-Point Contest]. And then I was competing. It was fun. “
“I’m going to soak it all in. I think I’m going to get more emotional later when it is all said and done.”
Nowitzki said he appreciates the support and love from fans as well as athletes and knows decision-time is coming. “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. 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.”