Two certain first-ballot Hall of Famers — Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki — said goodbye to their hometown fans Tuesday night, and they did it in style.
Both went out on high notes — scoring 30 points each.
Fans have known the end was coming for Wade for some time. The only variable was whether the Miami Heat would make the playoffs. They were eliminated Monday, which meant that the end was very near for Wade.
Nowitzki hadn’t announced his retirement yet, so it wasn’t clear whether this season would be it for the Dallas Mavericks legend.
But he put any doubts to rest Tuesday night, announcing his retirement to the home crowd after the game.
“This was my last home game.”
Dirk Nowitzki teared up officially announcing his retirement ? pic.twitter.com/olv6dhjqiR
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 10, 2019
An emotional Dirk Nowitzki thanks the Dallas crowd after announcing his retirement. ✊ pic.twitter.com/79UQGZiHy6
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 10, 2019
“It’s been a long time coming,” Nowitzki said in his postgame news conference, according to the Mavericks’ site. “I think I was struggling this year with my (injured) foot — that’s no secret. It’s just not being where it needs to be to compete at a high level for 82 games. I had a lot of treatment over the course of the season — injections.
“But it doesn’t make any sense anymore to do that for another season, even though I would love to be there. I’d love to be there with KP (Kristaps Porzingis) and Luka (Doncic) and all these young guys and have fun with them and mentor them again if I can. But it just doesn’t make any sense anymore physically.”
After his farewell speech, Nowitzki was surprised by five of his childhood idols who came out to honor him: Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf. Mavs owner Mark Cuban and coach Rick Carlisle also said a few words.
From tonight’s postgame ceremony: Charles Barkley shares a few thoughts and memories about Dirk’s career. pic.twitter.com/wHVIBVtCCC
— FOX 4 Sports (@KDFWsports) April 10, 2019
Larry Bird teed up Mavs fans for Dirk saying why not one more year…
<one more year chant>
Bird: “Well, you guys are too easy. Why not two?” pic.twitter.com/mKykr0mTbH
— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) April 10, 2019
In Miami, Wade told the crowd he was the “most thankful person in this state.”
“My thoughts are all over the place,” he said in an on-court interview after the game, according to NBA.com. “As I sit here, I think about the moment my agent came to the table in New York in 2003 and told me the Heat were about to pick me at (No.) 5. It was a numb feeling, similar to what I’m feeling right now.
“But from the first conversation I had in this building, I heard the love. And I appreciated it then, and I more than appreciate it now. So I’m sitting here the most thankful person right now.
“Wade County — I love you.”
End of an era.
After @DwyaneWade finished his final home game one thing was for certain – he appreciated the love day 1 in 2003 and he more than appreciated it last night. #L3GACY #OneLastDance pic.twitter.com/qEYKRq4L5n
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 10, 2019
Wade, 37, poured in 30 points to lead the Heat to a 122-99 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. He finished the year as the team’s second-leading scorer at 14.9 points per game, and he clearly showed that he’s good enough to keep playing.
Wade was drafted fifth overall by Miami in 2003 and played 13 of his 15 seasons with the Heat. He is a three-time NBA champion and a 13-time All-Star, and is 35th on the career scoring list.
The 40-year-old Nowitzki also had 30 points to lead Dallas to a 120-109 win over the Phoenix Suns. The Suns’ Jamal Crawford had a career game with 51 points, but he picked the wrong night to do that as he was overshadowed by the Nowitzki celebration.
The German native played in 50 games this year and averaged 7.1 points per game.
Nowitzki was drafted No. 9 overall in 1998 and played all 21 seasons in Dallas. He is the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history.
He won one NBA championship, is a 14-time All-Star and won the league MVP in 2007.
They aren’t quite done yet — both play Wednesday on the road. Wade and the Heat will visit Brooklyn, while Nowitzki and the Mavericks travel to San Antonio.
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