Last night, Dallas Mavericks fans gathered at the American Airlines Center to honor legend Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki, a Preston Hollow neighbor, was there with his family to see his No. 41 jersey retired, lifted to the rafters at the stadium.
The ceremony, which included a serenade from 41 members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, followed a 99-82 Mavericks win over the Golden State Warriors.
Tributes from Steve Nash, former coaches Rick Carlisle and Avery Johnson, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and some of his players — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala — were among the videos shown on the Jumbotron.
“That pillar always gave me a warm welcome when I got here, and this pillar always wanted me to succeed, and they always pushed me and gave me the strength to work hard and motivate me,” said Nowitzki, who played all 21 seasons of his NBA career with the Mavs. “What I appreciate most was this pillar supported me during the tough, tough playoff times and playoff losses. So you know what? That pillar is you.”
Nowitzki got some laughs from the crowd when he told his father-in-law, “What I appreciate most about you is your daughter.”
Also at the ceremony, neighbor and team owner Mark Cuban unveiled a model of the statue portraying Nowitzki that will be installed outside the stadium.
“I want everybody to see your greatness forever, Dirk,” Cuban said. “So your name is on the court, and even though you didn’t want it to happen, your silhouette is on the floor. And one of the things we do so that all future Mavs fans and all future players will always know your greatness is we put your number up in the rafters. But that’s not all we do, Dirk. Because I want everybody to see more of you and because I made you a promise, I’m going to keep my promise.”
He talked to us years ago about living in Preston Hollow and his foundation.