Dirk Nowitzki is a rare breed of player in the NBA. Not many players remain with one franchise for their entire career, and those that do tend to be a certain kind of class.
Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade of the L.A. Lakers and Miami Heat respectively, have carved out similar legendary standing. It's not just about their commitment to the franchise and their loyalty; it's the production during their tenure that perhaps defines their legacy.
It might even be the secret to their longevity in a league extremely high on roster turnaround. Whatever the case, Nowitzki will be 38-years-old when the Mavericks tip-off next season, but despite Bryant retiring after 20 incredible years on the hardwood a few weeks ago, the big German certainly isn't thinking that way despite being two months older than his long-time rival.
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The legendary power forward has a player option on his contract that he is fully expected to pick up in the summer, giving him his 19th year with Dallas.
Bobby Karalla of Mavs.com sent out a tweet today suggesting that as long as owner Mark Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson continue to stay competitive, Nowitzki intends to see out his contract in Texas.
It appears that the feeling around the Mavericks is mutual, as Rick Carlisle explained following their season-ending 118-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in game four of their first-round playoff series how important it is they retain their leader.
COMMITTED TILL THE END
"We've got to hope that this isn't Dirk's last game as a Maverick," Carlisle said, per James Herbert of CBS Sports. "I'm ready to get on a plane and go to Germany and recruit him to be back. But I don't think we can take that for granted. We got to give him that kind of respect."
Carlisle went on to admit that, like most people, Nowitzki is expected to return to Dallas. However, he acknowledged it would be foolish to take that idea for granted and they have no intention of sleeping on their veteran.
"I think he will be back, but I don't want anybody to just assume anything," Carlisle said, per Herbert.
The ninth pick in the 1998 draft has had an exceptional career as a Maverick and has led the franchise to 14 postseasons in the past 15 years. They would claim the NBA title in 2011 with Nowitzki picking up the Finals MVP award, but his finest year came in 2007 when he won the regular season MVP award.
The seven-footer has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career and actually produced better statistics this season than he did last year. Nowitzki posted averages of 18.3 points a night and 6.5 rebounds to prove his is still one of the most dangerous players at the four spot in the league.
The Mavericks will be hoping he continues to do so next season.