Clippers' Doc Rivers stops game to give Dirk Nowitzki a proper send-off

The old “call a late timeout to give a star a walkoff moment” bit is a time-honored one from the NBA all the way down to senior night at your local high school. You don’t often see it used to thank a member of the opposition ... but then, Dirk Nowitzki isn’t exactly your normal opponent.

The Clippers were nine seconds away from a 121-112 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night when Doc Rivers called time. He walked to the scorer’s table, picked up a microphone and addressed the crowd.

“Dirk Nowitzki!” Rivers called out to the crowd. “Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go! One of the greatest of all time! Dirk Nowitzki!” The crowd responded with a minute-long standing ovation as members of the Clippers and Mavericks slapped hands and exchanged hugs with Nowitzki.

It’s not entirely clear yet if Nowitzki will retire after this season, although everyone seems to think it’s a foregone conclusion. But either way, he’s getting some well-deserved recognition from across the league as one of the best ever to play the game.

“It was sweet. I’m really appreciative,” Nowitzki said, per ESPN. “At first, I was like, ‘Why is Doc calling a timeout? What’s he doing with [9.4] seconds left? What’s he up to?’ Then he grabbed the mic. I didn’t really understand much, but that was really humbling. That was an emotional moment.”

Rivers said he hadn’t planned the moment, but took advantage when the opportunity presented itself. He’d regretted not giving retiring Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade the same treatment earlier in the year.

“I thought we didn’t give Wade [a send-off],” he said. “Like, it was a close game and I think they won the game and Wade played like he should play five more years. So I wasn’t going to let that happen again. I just did it.”

Monday night’s game marked Nowitzki’s 1,500th of his NBA career. That ranks behind only Robert Parish, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and John Stockton all time.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle thanked Rivers for the moment in their postgame handshake. “It was one of the greatest things I’ve seen,” Carlisle said. “I know there will be more moments similar to that, but this was an original. I’ve never seen something like this.”

Dirk Nowitzki accepted congratulations from the Clippers after Doc Rivers called time-out. (Getty)
Dirk Nowitzki accepted congratulations from the Clippers after Doc Rivers called time-out. (Getty)

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.