Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki will truly be going out on top, as NBA commissioner Adam Silver named the pair of future Hall of Famers to the All-Star Game as special roster additions on Friday.
The 37-year-old Wade has already announced this will be his final season, and 40-year-old Nowitzki is undecided about playing beyond this campaign. The two have combined for 17 All-Star Games and a pair of Finals MVPs in their 37 seasons in the league.
NBA coaches announced the 14 reserves for the All-Star Game on Thursday, and Nowitzki and Wade will be the be the 13th players to represent each of their conferences.
“Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade embody the best of the NBA: remarkable skill, drive and professionalism as well as a deep devotion to strengthening their communities and growing the game around the world,” Silver said in a statement. “As a global celebration of basketball, our All-Star Game is an ideal setting to salute these first-class NBA champions and Finals MVPs.”
After captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo draft the remaining starters in a televised event, they will move onto a second round to selected from the 14 initial reserves before a final round to choose between Wade and Nowitzki. James has the first pick in the first and third rounds, so he presumably will select his long-time Heat teammate.
And although neither player is close to their primes, it’s still a great gesture from the league to invite two of its best ambassadors to play in Charlotte later this month.
Wade, who had a streak of 13 straight All-Star selections snapped last season, is still a fan favorite despite coming off the bench for the Heat. He finished second in the fan voting among Eastern Conference guards and was a respectable sixth in player and media voting. Wade is hitting a career-high 32.9 percent of his 3-pointers, leading to 1.2 triples per game, also a best.
Nowtizki, meanwhile, is also coming off the bench for the first time in his career and is averaging 4.4 points in 10.3 minutes per game. But more importantly, he is passing the torch to fellow European star Luka Doncic. It’s unclear if the acquisition of fellow Euro big man Kristaps Porzingis – who has often been compared to Nowitzki – will encourage Dirk to stick around another year, but the Mavericks seem to finally be in good hands.
Wade and Nowitzki have two more chances to play this season, as the Heat visit Dallas on Feb. 13 in their last game before the All-Star break, and the Mavericks come to Miami on March 28. The two are an even 11-11 against each other during the regular season and 6-6 in the NBA Finals, where they each won Finals MVP in 4-2 series wins.
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