The 2012-13 season hasn't worked out as Dirk Nowitzki planned, with a preseason knee injury forcing him to miss 27 games and his Dallas Mavericks to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2000. But with three games left in Dallas' season, Nowitzki still entered Sunday with a milestone in reach and a long-held team goal within his grasp. He snared both and, as a result, he's probably about five pounds lighter this morning.
First, the history:
With 6:44 remaining in the second quarter, Nowitzki posted up on the right block against Hornets center Robin Lopez, faced up, elevated and splashed home an 18-foot jumper. The J — which, honestly, I'm a little mad didn't feature Dirk's signature exaggerated single-leg fadeaway motion — made Nowitzki just the 17th player in NBA history (and the 21st when you roll in ABA players) to score 25,000 points over the course of his career.
The other 20 players read like a who's who of professional basketball's record books, with Nowitzki the first to gain entry to the group since Kevin Garnett, who reached the 25K mark back in February. After the game, which Dallas won 107-89, Nowitzki acknowledged that he knew exactly how many points he needed to get to 25K, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News:
“I knew I had to get 10 today. The guys knew it. We kept running one play after another for me to get it. Actually the shot right before, I thought was going in, and it rolled out. Coach [Rick Carlisle] came right back and called another play for me. We wanted to get it over there in the first half so we could focus on winning this game. But I’m proud of how the guys played.”
Especially guys like Shawn Marion, who led the way with 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals, and reserves Vince Carter and Brandan Wright, who combined for 32 points off the bench. Thanks in large part to their efforts, Dallas won its 40th game against 40 losses; for the first time since Dec. 12, 2012, they're once again a .500 team.
And that meant it was time to shave.
As you no doubt remember, several Mavericks made a pact back in late January that they would not shave their beards until the team reached .500, a mark they'd approached several times, but had not yet reached. After Sunday's win brought Dallas level on the season, Dirk "didn't even wait to shower before shaving off his beard," according to Guerry Smith of The Associated Press:
Clearly, the German was ecstatic to shed his overgrowth. More from Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
“It’s been too long,” Nowitzki said. “Even my wife stopped kissing me somewhere in February. It feels good to shave again.”
And how quickly did Nowitzki shave off his beard?
“I did it in a minute or a minute and a half, and then I did the coach’s meeting,” Nowitzki said. “And then I ran back in right before the interviews and cleaned up the rest on my neck and behind the ears and the nose hair a little bit, and then I did the interviews.”
Nowitzki said he used a small razor to get the fuzzy hair off his neck and chin.
“Actually, someone brought the bigger [razor],” he said. “I had a little one, so I struggled a little bit the first couple of times. But I was able to get most of it, so I’m happy.”
A career landmark reached, a season goal achieved and an open door to kiss your wife for the first time in a couple of months ... I can certainly understand why you'd be happy, Dirk. And I'm happy for you. But that doesn't mean I'm not sad to see that luscious, luxurious cheek-and-chin-mane disappear. Vaya con dios, Dirk's Beard. I'll never forget you.