Dirk Nowitzki is arguably the greatest European basketball player of all time and has accomplished just about everything in his illustrious career. He has been the cornerstone of the Dallas Mavericks for his entire career, which spans 18 seasons, and has not yet made any announcements about when he plans to hang up his sneakers for good and walk away from the game of basketball.
The 38-year-old forward says that he wants to take things year-by-year, according to a report by NBC Sports. Even though he has just signed a two-year $50 million extension to stay with the Mavs, Nowitzki says that signing a new contract extension with the team doesn't necessarily mean that he will be playing those two years.
Nowitzki is about to enter the final two years of his Hall of Fame-worthy career, so he may want to think about how he wants to go out sooner than later. Will he retire like Kobe Bryant and be given a much deserved farewell tour throughout the season and play his last game with guns blazing, or will he be more like Tim Duncan who quietly hung up his sneakers and barely allowed fans to bid him goodbye? According to Dirk, he is somewhere in between, but does not want to have the same limelight that Bryant did in his final season.
"You know, I love the way Kobe went out...with a 60-point game? That's so Kobe-like. The whole arena standing up during the fourth quarter. So much fun to watch, but I'm more like a Duncan guy. More like a quiet guy. Don't need the limelight as much," Nowitzki said during an interview with the Dallas Morning News.
Kobe Bryant's final season was a much-see spectacle for basketball fans who wished to say goodbye and pay tribute to one of the best to ever play the game. His final game saw him put up 60 points while attempting 50 shots against the Utah Jazz. It was an enjoyable show for all to see and an appropriate ending to a legendary career.
Duncan's exit, on the other hand, was not as spectacular with his final game coming after the Spurs were eliminated from the second round of the playoffs in six games by the Oklahoma City Thunder. He quietly closed the door on his Hall of Fame career without the same kind of fanfare that Kobe had throughout the season.
The two-year contract extension that Nowitzki signed over the summer has been looked at as Mark Cuban's way of rewarding his loyalty and unselfishness to the team. He has taken numerous pay cuts over the years to help sign players that could help the Mavericks become contenders in the brutally tough Western Conference. His sacrifices finally paid off when he helped guide Dallas to an NBA championship in 2011 against a stacked Miami Heat team that featured the superstar trio of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Nowitzki is still playing pretty effectively despite his age and put up some very respectable averages of 18.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and all while shooting 44 percent from the field last season. He was also among the league's top free throw shooters, shooting an astounding 89 percent from the charity stripe.
He led the Mavericks in scoring during the playoffs, averaging 20.4 ppg where they were defeated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the first round.
While he is still uncertain if he will still be playing during the 2017-2018 season, the $25 million that he is set to make this upcoming season should be more than enough of a motivation for the German big man to finish out his contract as long as he remains healthy. For now, though, the Dirk Nowitzki era in Dallas will continue for at least one more year.
[Featured Image by Rick Bowmer/AP Images]