Mavericks honor Dirk Nowitzki, retire his No. 41 jersey in emotional celebration

At long last, Mark Cuban sent No. 41 into the rafters at the American Airlines Center.

The Dallas Mavericks officially retired Dirk Nowitzki’s jersey on Wednesday night after their 99-82 win over the Golden State Warriors, honoring the best player in franchise history nearly two years after he retired.

Nowitzki is now the fourth player in Mavericks history to have his jersey retired. He joins Brad Davis, Rolando Blackman and Derek Harper. The team also retired Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 after his death in 2020.

Nowitzki spent 21 seasons in Dallas, where he landed after the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him with the No. 9 overall pick out of Germany in 1998. The 14-time All-Star averaged 20.7 points and 7.5 rebounds in more than 1,500 games throughout his career, and helped lead the Mavericks to their only NBA title during the 2010-11 season. Nowitzki was named the league MVP during the 2006-07 campaign, when he averaged 24.6 points and 8.9 rebounds while shooting better than 50% from the field. He finished his career sixth on the league's all-time scoring list.

The future Hall of Famer, who revolutionized the game with his trademark fadeaway mid-range jumper, trails only Vince Carter for the most seasons played in NBA history — though he’s the only player to spend more than two decades playing with just one organization.

“I mean, he means everything to me and to this franchise,” Mavericks star Luka Doncic said on ESPN after the win. “He did everything to Dallas, Dallas gave it back … He deserves this and everything that happens to him. But like I said, he’s a hell of a player, he was one of the best. But one thing that stands out for him is the great person he is, one of the most humble superstars ever. He deserves everything that happens to him.”

As part of the celebration, the Mavericks honored Nowitzki at halftime with a $250,000.41 donation to his foundation.

Then after the game, Cuban was joined by commissioner Adam Silver, current head coach and former Mavericks guard Jason Kidd, Nowitzki's family and others on the court for the ceremony.

Kidd tried to recruit Nowitzki at one point, as the Mavericks — and the rest of the league — are scrambling to try to fill their roster amid a massive COVID-19 outbreak.

Nowitzki, though, clearly has had enough.

Cuban announced that the team will be putting up a Nowitzki statue outside of the arena in the near future.

“We did this not because you won us a championship,” Cuban said. “This is because of who you are, what you’ve done and we always want to recognize greatness forever more. Thank you.”