DALLAS — The night Dirk Nowitzki retired his jersey last season, Dallas Mavericks governor Mark Cuban promised to erect the “largest statue ever” in front of the American Airlines Center in honor of the legend.
“It’s a promise that gives me joy to keep, because you got it,” Cuban told Nowitzki on Christmas morning, minutes before the statue was unveiled just steps from the street renamed Nowitzki Way a few years ago.
The white bronze statue is of Nowitzki’s iconic one-legged figure, the same shot seen as a silhouette near the left block at either end of American Airlines Center Court. The shot became known as “The Dirk” as Nowitzki rose to sixth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and has become part of the repertoire of many current players, including the two superstars who faced each other on that floor Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and Mavericks Luka Doncic.
Doncic and several other Mavericks attended the ceremony, as did coach Jason Kidd, a former teammate of Nowitzki’s.
“There’s one more stop: the Hall of Fame,” Kidd said, referring to Nowitzki’s confirmed inclusion in the next Hall of Fame class as a first-ballot pick.
Artist Omri Amrani created the statue, and it is one of several he has made to honor NBA legends, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal. The statue is richly detailed, using the shoes and uniform Nowitzki wore as he led the Mavericks to the 2010-11 NBA Championship, the franchise’s only title.
At the base of the statue it reads: “Loyalty Never Fade,” a tribute to Nowitzki spending his entire career in Dallas, setting an NBA record by playing 21 seasons for a single franchise.
“I kind of sat down, like, what do people associate you with in Dallas?” Nowitzki said. “It was those two things. It was evanescence and loyalty. We kind of put that together. It was just the fun fact that it was 21 letters over 21 years.”
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