NBA

Dirk Nowitzki.

Dirk Nowitzki - staring at his final season in the NBA

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There is something very difficult about watching legends depart the NBA.

It doesn't help that fans of the sport have had to watch Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett all retire in one summer.

However, a few pillars of the last couple of decades remain in and around the league and few are more precious and revered than Dirk Nowitzki.

The Dallas Mavericks forward has spent his entire career with the Texas-based franchise and his one-legged turnaround fadeaway has become the stuff of legends.

The big German joined the Mavs as the ninth overall pick back in 1998 and as he attempts to play his 19th season in the league, it appears as though he might finally be starting to slow down.

He has only managed to play three times so far this season because of a troublesome Achilles injury and in those encounters, Nowitzki has seen his lowest minutes on the court since his rookie season.

Dallas Mavericks v Indiana Pacers

He has also only averaged 12 points a night, a far cry from the 24.6 he managed in his MVP season back in 2007.

The Mavericks attempted to make some moves this summer, just like they have for the last several years. The plan has always been to build around Dirk; the 7'0" scoring machine was an attraction in itself.

He is extremely likable and endearing; he doesn't carry any Kobe Bryant-esque characteristics, nor does has money ever been his primary focus.

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks

He would make a great teammate for any star that wanted to suit up alongside him, and the Mavs thought they found that star in DeAndre Jordan last summer.

We all know that wasn't meant to be, but when Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut arrived from the Golden State Warriors side that won a record-setting 73 games last season, there was hope Dallas could have a deep run before Dirk calls it a day.

After starting the season 2-6, with a five-game losing streak to kick things off, that doesn't appear to be the case. In fact, it is not about helping Dirk win the second and surely last title of his career, it's about planning for life without him.

Detroit Pistons v Dallas Mavericks

Suddenly, Barnes isn't a supporting player, he's primed to be Dirk's replacement.

"It's no secret that Dirk is going to be leaving this team and the Mavs are going to be entering a post-Nowitzki era," Barnes said. "We have to be prepared for that. That's why I'm working every single day, working with the coaches, so I can do my part and make sure I'm ready. Whether that time is now or that time is whenever, I need to be able to step into that [role] and have it be a seamless transition."

Barnes has started life well in Dallas in somewhat difficult circumstances, but I can tell him right now, he won't seamlessly fill Dirk's shoes.

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors

All the noise coming out of the Mavericks, combined with Nowitzki's physical state and production suggest that this is the 19th and final season for the enigmatic big man.

I suggest that you enjoy the big man, and Dallas as a viable threat, while you can.

Topics:
NBA
Tim Duncan
San Antonio Spurs
Southwest Division
Western Conference
Dallas Mavericks
Kobe Bryant
LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Dirk Nowitzki

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