Jan 5, 2022
With 18.8 seconds left and his team ahead comfortably in Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki pumped a fist skyward at American Airlines Arena, symbolically lifting hope for young hoopers all over soccer-crazed Germany.
Nowitzki’s 21-point performance, which included 10 points in the final frame, left an indelible impression on a 9-year-old Franz Wagner and his older brother Moe, 14, now teammates for the Orlando Magic and fellow countrymen of the Dallas Mavericks superstar. "What I’m grateful for is that Dirk kind of taught me what winning could mean to people when he won in 2011,” Moe Wagner told NBA.com. “The way he did it, I think that’s so Dirk-like,” Franz Wagner added. “And so unique for an NBA player. The way he did it so humble, never kind of forgetting what got him there, I think that’s what Germans can identify with the most. I think that meant a lot for everybody that loves basketball in Germany.” Certainly, many of them will tune in Wednesday, when the Dallas Mavericks raise Nowitzki’s No. 41 jersey into the rafters in retirement after the team’s matchup against the Golden State Warriors at American Airlines Center. NBA commissioner Adam Silver is expected to attend as the franchise officially retires Nowitzki’s jersey alongside those of former Dallas greats Rolando Blackman (22), Brad Davis (10) and Derek Harper (12), who are also expected to be on the scene for Wednesday’s postgame ceremony.