SACRAMENTO -- During pregame of the Kings and Mavericks game on Thursday evening, a tribute video for future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki played on the monstrous scoreboard hanging high above the court at Golden 1 Center.
While the 40-year-old power forward hasn’t officially announced his retirement yet, it is likely that his 21st NBA season is his last.
When Nowitzki entered the court midway through the first quarter, Kings fans gave the 14-time All-Star a standing ovation. It was a nice moment and Nowitzki was appreciative.
Following the Kings’ 116-100 victory, Nowitzki spoke to the media and was extremely complimentary about the squad they are building in Sacramento.
“[De’Aaron] Fox is fantastic, he’s so fast, he’s probably one of the fastest players I’ve seen in this league and he got better from year one to year two,” Nowitzki told reporters following the game. “[Marvin] Bagley’s looked great off the bench. There’s not a lot of guys that get you 20 and 10 off the bench. He’s an instant problem off the bench.”
“All these young guys, they have great upside and they’ll be fun to watch for a long, long time,” Nowitzki added.
While the Mavericks fell out of the playoff race early, Nowitzki thought the Kings would snap their 12-year drought, especially after the addition of Harrison Barnes from the Mavs at the deadline.
“I actually thought the race for the eight would be there's, so it was just a tough stretch there,” Nowitzki said. “They’re a great set up for the future with Fox and Hield and now Giles and Bagley looked fantastic. They have a couple of veterans with Harrison now. They’re set up great for the future.”
Former teammates - pic.twitter.com/zB7gXs2FkX— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) March 22, 2019
Prior to tip-off, he caught up with Kings assistant general manager, Peja Stojakovic. The two battled during international play, at the NBA level and even won a championship together in Dallas during the 2010-11 season.
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Nowitzki ranks sixth all-time on the NBA’s scoring list and he is widely considered the greatest European player to ever play in the league. In likely his last trip to Sacramento as a player, the German-born star hit 1-of-2 from long range to finish with three points in 12 minutes.