DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - It was one of the bigger nights in recent Dallas Mavericks history, and it had nothing to do with their convincing win against one of the best teams in the NBA.
Wednesday, Jan. 5 was all about Dirk Nowitzki, the greatest Mavericks player ever, and his legion of fans.
Nowitzki, who played all of his 21 NBA seasons in Dallas, saw his No. 41 jersey raised to the rafters of the American Airlines Center after the game against the Golden State Warriors, which the Mavs won 99-82.
The Warriors offered their own tribute to Nowitzki in a video during a third-quarter timeout.
There were recorded messages from superstars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, who joked about two pump-fakes from an aging Nowitzki on the same sequence that fooled him as the video showed the highlight.
After the game, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, coach and former teammate Jason Kidd, along with team owner Mark Cuban, spoke about Nowitzki's impact on the team, the NBA and North Texas.
Cuban also unveiled a miniature version of a statue commemorating Nowitzki's signature one-legged fadeaway jumper.
He said the much larger one in the works, will be placed outside the American Airlines Center and moved to any future arenas where the Mavs might play one day.
Nowitzki wiped a tear as his No. 41 rose slowly above the court not far from the podium where he held it together through a 20-minute speech until it was time to thank the fans.
"I almost made it through without getting emotional," Nowitzki said. "But you guys get me every time."
Nowitzki joins Brad Davis (#10), Rolando Blackman (#22) and Derek Harper (#12) as the only Mavericks to have their jerseys hung in the rafters.
The highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history led the Mavericks to their only championship in 2011 and their only other NBA Finals appearance five years before that.
Eight players from that title team, including now-Coach Kidd, honored the greatest Maverick, with Kidd even suggesting Nowitzki still had enough in him to help the current Mavs team.
"I've got one question," Kidd said. "We're giving out 10 days (10-day contracts). You want to come back?"
Throughout the night, fans enjoyed walking around the concourse which resembled a museum, with a showcase from Nowitzki's personal collection, including All-Star and Championship rings, jerseys, shoes and memorabilia from his history with the Dallas Mavericks.
CBS 11 reporter Erin Jones shared some of what she saw on Twitter and got reaction from fans.
"These are amazing," said Melvin Vera. "It's just an amazing moment to be here — seeing this here live."
Before the game, fans were almost pinching themselves that they got to be at the AAC on Wednesday night.
"Dirk has been a part of my life for a really long time now. I've dedicated so much of my personal time to his career and this is just," he said. "It's going to be an emotional night for sure."
Fans also received Nowitzki memorabilia, including a special edition NFT, commemorative tickets, rally towels and clappers.
"I remember being at Dirk's last home game and the memories of that," said fan Levi Stern. "I'm hoping for something just as big as that tonight."
"I watched the man play pretty much every game for 20 years. I'm going to tear up," said fan Randall McMillan. "It's going to be a once in a lifetime night."
Fans call him the GOAT, for "greatest of all time."
"He just had an amazing career - after all, everything he's done I want to say 'thank you'," said Martin Ibarra.
Nowitzki is the only player in NBA history to play 21 seasons with the same franchise.
In 1,522 total games, Nowitzki is the Mavericks' all-time leader in points (31,560), games played (1,522), starts (1,460), minutes (51,368), rebounds (11,489), defensive rebounds (10,021), field goals made (11,169), 3-pointers made (1,982), free throws made (7,240) and blocks (1,281).
(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
for more features.