Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks: It'll Be A Sad Day When Dirk Nowitzki Retires

I’d really like to conduct this poll for every Dallas Mavericks fan known in existence.

What will you do first: Cry or sit in a state of depression?

Thankfully, if you’re still torn on which to do, you’ll have a few more years to decide before Dirk Nowitzki retires from the NBA as the greatest Mavs player of all time.

But while he’s around, let’s be thankful. Let’s be happy. Let’s appreciate the fact that there may never be another player in this lifetime that can do what Dirk can.

And no, I’m not talking about players emulating his patented one-legged fadeaway like Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant. I’m not talking about the likes of Andrea Bargnani coming into the league and being worshiped as the next Dirk.

There will never be another player like the Big German, and Tuesday night reminded those watching two things: He’s nowhere near ready to call it quits, and as long as he’s playing near a top level, the Mavs can beat any team in front of them.

At this point, I’m well aware that sounds like a broken record with this inconsistent Dallas team. The Mavs almost found a way to lose another home game in overtime.

But it was Super Dirk to the rescue, bringing famed shooting coach Holger Geschwindner with him this time.

The mad scientist was at the American Airlines Center when the Mavs took on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday; about a good two to three weeks before the playoffs. Something hasn’t clicked with Nowitzki in recent weeks. Even though the Mavs are playing better than anticipated in March, there’s no doubt they could have a much better record.

The majority of that bulk goes on Nowitzki, who hasn’t played like the Dirk we’re all accustomed to seeing. He’s missing shots that he normally makes, especially on one foot, and he’s not getting to the line as much as he used to. Even though he’s shooting an astounding 92 percent from the free throw line, the opportunities have been limited.

After the loss to Brooklyn on Sunday, the Mavs looked like they hit the rewind button a couple of months back. Up by four with 45 seconds left, Dallas allowed the Jason Kidd-coached Nets to come back and win in overtime. Nowitzki finished 2-of-12 from the field.

That game showed the need for Dallas to get another star to pair with him and Monta Ellis. Make no mistake: Ellis has been more than a pleasant surprise for the Mavs this year. But as much as it’d be the right course of action to admit that the dynamo shooting guard is next in line to lead the Mavs, that’s not the case.

On a team with another star, Ellis can be dominant. He can’t carry a team himself. Even with an aging superstar in Nowitzki, we’re seeing potential of what he can become while being the No. 2, or even the No. 3 option.

But after that collapse against Brooklyn, the question crept into my mind: Was it time to start accepting the fact that the great Dirk Nowitzki was getting old?

Apparently, when Holger’s in town, Dirk plays like he’s 25, not 35. He showed that tonight in a must-win game against the Thunder, scoring 32 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

In ways, he outplayed Kevin Durant, especially in overtime, where Nowitzki had seven of his points. The last coming on a 3-pointer from the left wing that fans have seen 100 times over. When he swished the dagger, he was the most fired up he’s been all year.

It was a great sight to see, and it was a reminder that he’s got a few years left.

No question, it’s been another down year for the Mavs. But the reality of the situation is they’re very well alive in the playoff race, and still have a legitimate chance to climb a few spots from the eighth seed they’re currently placed in.

But when the playoffs start, and Dallas is one of the eight teams in the Western Conference playing for a spot in the NBA Finals, there’s no doubt the Nowitzki that’s averaged over 25 points and 10 rebounds in his playoff career will be ready to play. And when he does, it’ll be another subtle reminder that the greatest Dallas Maverick ever is only a few years away from retiring.

If he plays to his 20th year, he could very well make a push towards being a top-5 scorer all time. Even Nowitzki said it himself once: He doesn’t need to have athleticism to be a great player.

But there won’t be that one-legged fadeaway anymore. That’ll hurt a lot.

There’s great hope, though, that the statue outside the American Airlines Center will suffice.

You can reach Danny Webster on Twitter @DannyWebster21.

Tags: Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki

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