Dirk Nowitzki has never known anything like this offseason's "crazy" NBA free agency frenzy, which he believes is "good for the business."

NBA Finals MVP Kahwi Leonard is among the high-profile stars to have moved on, leaving champions the Toronto Raptors to join the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kevin Durant swapped the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets, while Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul swapped places as the former left the Oklahoma City Thunder to link up with the Houston Rockets ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Jimmy Butler and Anthony Davis are among the other stars to have moved on to pastures new.

Retired Dallas Mavericks great Nowitzki has found it hard to keep track of all the deals, but says they will be great for the competition.

"It's definitely crazy. I was very surprised," said the German, who played in a charity football match in his homeland last weekend.

"I've been in Europe for three weeks now and every day when I've switched on my phone there's been another announcement that someone had joined another team.

"I can't remember a time in my 20-year career when so many top players have changed teams. It was a crazy summer, but it's good for the business.

"There's been a lot of media coverage and it will be a crazy season. There's a lot going on."

Dirk Nowitzki has been confirmed as the third ambassador for this year's FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.

The German, who retired at the end of the NBA's regular season, follows Yao Ming and Kobe Bryant in taking up the role ahead of the expanded edition of the tournament in 2019.

A total of 32 nations will be involved - the most ever in the event's history - and eight different cities will host games, with the action tipping off on August 31.

"I'm very excited to become an ambassador for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019," Nowitzki said.

"It's an honour to join Yao Ming and Kobe Bryant, some of my contemporaries and biggest rivals, in taking up this prestigious role."

Nowitzki spent his entire NBA career with the Dallas Mavericks, helping the franchise win the title in 2011.

He also represented his country from 1999 to 2015 and was named tournament MVP at the 2002 World Cup after Germany finished third.

Dirk Nowitzki's long and glittering NBA career came to an end on Wednesday.

After confirming his retirement a day earlier and bidding an emotional farewell to Mavericks fans in his final home game in Dallas, Nowitzki bowed out with a double-double in a defeat to the San Antonio Spurs.

He finishes his 21-year-career sixth on the NBA points list and will best be remembered for helping the Mavericks defeat a star-studded Miami Heat team in the 2011 NBA Finals.

So where does the German stand in terms of the NBA's best European players? Here we look at Nowitzki's career and those of some of the association's best other European imports.

Vlade Divac

He may never have climbed the mountain and won an NBA title but Divac, along with the late Drazen Petrovic, helped pave the way for more European players to make the switch to the NBA with his excellent career.

Divac, now Sacramento Kings general manager, only earned one All-Star berth in his career with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Kings. However, he remains part of an elite group of seven players in NBA history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, and 1,500 blocked shots.

Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, and Hakeem Olajuwon can claim to have achieved the same feat.

 

Tony Parker

"[When] we gave [Tony Parker] his first workout, we didn't think he was tough enough – and we sent him home. And then we set up another interview, another workout... and he was fantastic in that one."

Those the words of Gregg Popovich after the Spurs won their 2007 championship. Popovich and the Spurs will be forever thankful he offered Parker another shot ahead of the 2001 draft.

The French point guard was MVP in the 2007 Finals and helped them to four titles, including three in five seasons between 2003 and 2007.

A six-time All-Star, Parker is still going strong with the Charlotte Hornets and will be worthy of the same send-off Nowitzki received when he calls it a career.

 

Pau Gasol

Gasol has been dominant in the frontcourt for close to two decades and, after winning Rookie of the Year in his first campaign, has been adding to a sparkling resume ever since.

Six times an NBA All-Star, Gasol became only the fourth player in league history to rack up 20,000 points 11,000 rebounds, 3,500 assists and 1,500 blocks back in February 2018.

Two titles came his way during his spell with the Los Angeles Lakers and, if the Milwaukee Bucks can somehow dethrone the Golden State Warriors, the Spaniard will have a third to his name despite the fact he has been out for most of the season with an ankle injury. 

Their ability to do that, however, depends largely on the performance of a young team-mate seemingly headed for even greater things.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Unknown to the wider NBA public heading into the 2013 draft, Antetokounmpo is perhaps the leading candidate to be the face of the league whenever the post-LeBron James era starts.

His monstrous blend of size and athleticism have seen him terrorise opposing defenses and help turn the Bucks into a force to be reckoned with. Already a three-time All-Star, the 'Greek Freak' led the Bucks to the best record in the NBA this season, in which he averaged a career-high 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists.

It appears to be between Antetokounmpo and Houston Rockets star James Harden for this year's MVP award. If Antetokounmpo claims that trophy and goes on to lead the Bucks past a Warriors team many see as the greatest of all time, his legacy as the best European ever may already be secured.

Dirk Nowitzki

Yet for now it is Nowitzki who lays claim to that particular title. No other European comes close to him on the all-time points list and there is no player on this list who has won league MVP and Finals MVP.

Nowitzki was named MVP in 2007 and added Finals MVP to his CV after playing an instrumental role in the Mavs' win over the Heat.

With 14 All-Star game appearances and 12 All-NBA team selections to his name, Nowitzki's career is unmatched by any European. Antetokounmpo could soon overhaul him but, for now, Nowitzki stands alone as the best European NBA import in history.

Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki declared his retirement had been "a long time coming" after playing his final game at American Airlines Center on Tuesday.

The 40-year-old German confirmed his retirement following a 120-109 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Long-serving great Nowitzki, sixth on the list of all-time NBA points-scorers, marked his last home match by claiming a 30-point haul.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and owner Mark Cuban paid tribute to the 2006-07 MVP before the man himself took the microphone in front of a sell-out crowd.

"Mark, can't wait to see what you've got for my jersey retirement," Nowitzki said to Cuban. "I mean, this is a high bar that you set. But as you guys might expect, this is my last home game.

"I'm trying my yoga breathing, but it's not really working that well. This is obviously super, super emotional."

He added in a press conference: "I think it's been a long time coming. I was struggling this year with my foot. That's no secret. It's just not there where it needs to be to compete at a high level for 82 games.

"I felt actually some of the best today, but I've got a lot of treatment over the course of the season - pills, injections. It just doesn't make any sense anymore to keep doing that for another season, even though I'd love to be there.

"I'd love to be there with Kristaps [Porzingis] and Luka [Doncic] and all these young guys and have fun with them and mentor them as much as I can. But it just doesn't make any sense anymore physically.

"What ended up happening was with more ankle movement, the arthritis was just showing up too much and I was in pain most of the year. You could tell sometimes. When I was backpedalling, my left foot kept sinking in.

"It was a tough year, tough year, but I kept plugging through. And I'm glad it's almost over."

After spending all 21 seasons with Dallas, Cuban says Nowitzki's incredible contribution will be recognised appropriately.

"I promise you that everything you taught us will live on," Cuban said to the stalwart. "I promise you a job for life. I promise you that we'll retire your number. And I promise you will get the biggest, most badass statue ever."

Tuesday was a historic day for the NBA.

Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki each played their last home games for their respective teams, as both have plans to retire after the season. The Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks were both able to secure quality wins for their superstars on such an important night.

Wade scored a game-high 30 points for Miami in its 122-99 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers. After the contest, he gifted jerseys to all of his teammates.

Nowitzki scored 30 points of his own in Dallas. The 40-year-old big man filled it up early, scoring his team's first 10 points in a 120-109 victory over Phoenix Suns. He became the oldest player in NBA history to score at least 30 points in a game.

While neither future Hall of Fame player will be in the post-season, they got the storybook endings they deserved in front of their home crowds.

Crawford goes off on Dallas

Pheonix Sun Jamal Crawford scored a game-high 51 points against the Mavericks.

James Harden recorded 39 points and 10 rebounds in Houston Rockets' 112-111 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Donovan Mitchell posted 46 points in Utah Jazz's 118-108 win over the Denver N.

Six and out for Green

Jeff Green scored six points on 2-of-13 shooting in the Washington Wizards' 116-110 loss to the Boston Celtics.

Wayne Ellington totaled seven points on 1-of-11 shooting in the Detriot Pistons' 100-93 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Caruso almost wins it for the Lakers

Alex Caruso hit a huge shot to put the Lakers up late, but they fell to Portland 104-101.

Paul George hit a game-winner to lift the Thunder over the Rockets.

What's Next?

Orlando Magic (41-40) at Charlotte Hornets (39-42) 8 p.m. ET — Orlando has already punched its ticket to the playoffs. Charlotte, on the other hand, is battling with Detroit for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot. Steve Clifford coached the Hornets as recently as last season and now he has the opportunity to eliminate his old team from the post-season.

Dirk Nowitzki declared "I'm glad it's over with" after passing "freak of nature" Wilt Chamberlain to go sixth on the list of all-time NBA points scorers.

The Dallas Mavericks veteran leapfrogged the great Chamberlain during Monday's 129-125 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Nowitzki needed just four points to surpass Chamberlain's tally of 31,419 and poured in eight during his 12 minutes on court.

The 40-year-old spoke of his relief after achieving the feat.

"The 'Big Dipper', huh? It's amazing," said Nowitzki. "It's been a long time coming this season, knowing before the year it was only 200-something points [away].

"Then there were times when I thought I'm not going to make it, the way the season went with the injury. Coming off the injury was just super, super slow.

"But the last few weeks felt better, and I've been playing better, and the team was obviously looking for me and telling me to shoot. I'm glad it's over with now."

The German said of Chamberlain: "He dominated his era like nobody else dominated in his era.

"It was obviously a little bit before my time, but everybody knows about Wilt and what he's done - how athletic he was, how big he was, how he could jump at that height that he was.

"He was just a freak of nature and unguardable in that era. He only played, what, 13 or 14 years, and he's still up there with the best. If he had played a couple more years, he'd be number one or two. That's how dominant he was."

Dallas Mavericks veteran Dirk Nowitzki improved to third in the all-time list for games played in the NBA.

Nowitzki's appearance against the Orlando Magic on Friday saw the 40-year-old pass John Stockton for third in games played with 1,505.

Playing in the NBA since making his Mavs debut in 1998, Nowitzki now trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560) and Robert Parrish (1,611).

The Mavericks forward and 2011 champion – who was the 2007 MVP – sits top-10 for all time points (seventh), top 20 in three-pointers made (11th) and top 30 in rebounds (27th).

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James passed Hall of Famer Michael Jordan for fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

While Wednesday's feat is nothing to scoff at, our friends at Opta would like to remind everyone of a handful of other all-time leaderboards undergoing a makeover.

Here are five milestones to keep an eye out for in the final weeks of the NBA season:

 

Kevin Durant — Career 30-point games

Durant's next game with 30 or more points will be his 300th. The Golden State Warriors star would be the 14th NBA player to reach the milestone and the fifth-youngest player to hit the mark if he does it within the next three weeks (which seems likely).

1. Michael Jordan - 562
2. Wilt Chamberlain - 515
3. LeBron James - 442
4. Karl Malone - 435
5. Kobe Bryant - 431
6. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 429
7. Oscar Robertson - 387
8. Jerry West - 350
9. Dominique Wilkins - 346
10. Allen Iverson - 345
11. Elgin Baylor - 343
12. Adrian Dantley - 314
13. Shaquille O'Neal - 313
14. Kevin Durant - 299
15. George Gervin - 297

 

Dirk Nowitzki — Career points

Nowitzki (31,364) needs 56 points to pass Wilt Chamberlain for the fifth-most all time and one more game played to pass John Stockton for the third-most all time.

The Dallas Mavericks veteran will surpass Stockton if he takes the floor on Friday against the Chicago Bulls. If he continues his scoring pace of 5.4 points per game, Nowitzki should pass Chamberlain on the scoring list away to the Miami Heat on March 28.

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 38,387
2. Karl Malone - 36,928
3. Kobe Bryant - 33,643
4. LeBron James - 32,311
5. Michael Jordan - 32,292
6. Wilt Chamberlain - 31,419
7. Dirk Nowitzki - 31,364

 

Chris Paul — Career assists

Paul (9,050) needs only 12 assists to pass Isiah Thomas for the seventh most all time. The Houston Rockets star is averaging 8.3 per game, so expect him to move past Thomas on the road against the Mavericks on Sunday — that is if he does not have a vintage performance at home to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.

1. John Stockton - 15,806
2. Jason Kidd - 12,091
3. Steve Nash - 10,335
4. Mark Jackson - 10,334
5. Magic Johnson - 10,141
6. Oscar Robertson - 9,887
7. Isiah Thomas - 9,061
8. Chris Paul - 9,050
9. Gary Payton - 8,966
10. LeBron James - 8,584

 

James Harden — Career triple-doubles

Harden (41) needs three triple-doubles to move ahead of Fat Lever for the eighth most in league history.

However, Houston Rockets superstar Harden will never pass Lever for the best name in NBA history.

Larry Bird would be Harden's next target at 59 career triple-doubles.

 

Russell Westbrook — Career triple-doubles

Westbrook (129) requires 10 more triple-doubles to pass Magic Johnson for the second most in league history.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have 18 games remaining in the regular season, but let's remember what Westbrook has accomplished since the beginning of the 2016-17 season. He has made Johnson's number reachable this term and Oscar Robertson's league record of 181 firmly in play next season.

1. Oscar Robertson 181
2. Magic Johnson 138
3. Russell Westbrook 129
4. Jason Kidd 107
5. LeBron James 79
6. Wilt Chamberlain 78
7. Larry Bird 59
8. Fat Lever 43
9. James Harden 41
10. Bob Cousy 33

Dirk Nowitzki still has not ruled out playing for the Dallas Mavericks again next season.

The 40-year-old veteran was widely expected to call time on his NBA career at the end of the 2018-19 campaign and has received tributes at numerous road games this year.

But Nowitzki, a 2011 champion with Dallas who is playing a record 21st NBA season, says a decision has not yet been made.

The German plans to see how his body holds up through the rest of the season before seeing if he can aid Mavs prospects Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis again next term.

"I'd love to be there for the young guys one more year, but I think it depends on how the body feels," he said after scoring 11 points in Wednesday's 110-101 win over the Indiana Pacers.

"I've had some issues, obviously, this year. I had some knee swelling here the last few weeks, actually before the All-Star break, so it's not all great. But like I said, I am feeling better. I am feeling a little stronger.

"I think I'm going to make that decision later on, but I think the future's bright. I think Luka and KP, if they stay healthy, stay together, they should be a great combo. They should play great off each other.

"Both have an incredible skillset for their size, incredible playmaking ability for their size. They should gel well, but we have to see how it goes next year."

Kevin Durant vowed to keep adding to his collection of individual prizes after being named the NBA All-Star Game's MVP for a second time.

The Golden State Warriors star racked up 31 points with seven rebounds and two assists to inspire Team LeBron to a 178-164 victory over Team Giannis on Sunday.

Durant, who also won the award in 2012, has now scored 30 or more points in four different All-Star games - an NBA record.

"It's all sweet to me. It's hard to rank, everything's special," he said.

"It's cool to be out there with some of the best players to have ever played the game and to win MVP in front of my family and friends was pretty sweet. I'll just try to keep racking them up I guess.

"As a veteran now, coming back and winning another MVP is cool to put into the trophy case."

And Durant paid tribute to Dallas Mavericks veteran Dirk Nowitzki, who perhaps featured in his final All-Star Game amid rumours that this season - his 21st in the NBA - will be his last.

"He is one of those guys where you see him have a tough game three and bounce back in game four," Durant said.

"That shows character, that shows what he's about. So, to grind against Dirk for a couple of years in the playoffs, battling against him in the Western Conference all these years has been a treat.

"He's somebody that's unguardable and created a shot that really can't be blocked.

"His legacy is going to live forever as a baller."

Team LeBron took home a victory in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, beating Team Giannis 178-164 on Sunday. 

The NBA released the field of participants for the 2019 All-Star weekend three-point contest, dunk contest and skills challenge.

Stephen Curry will face off against his brother, Seth, in their hometown Charlotte, North Carolina to headline the three-point contest. But they will have to take down the defending champion, Devin Booker.

Dennis Smith Jr.'s explosive hops will be returning to the dunk contest as he hopes to claim the title this time. The field of newcomers should make for an exciting performance.

The skills challenge features De'Aaron Fox, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Trae Young and a host of others.

The trio of events will begin on February 16 at North Carolina's Spectrum Center.

 

Three-point contest

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Seth Curry, Portland Trail Blazers
Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Danny Green, Toronto Raptors
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks

Dunk contest

Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets
John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City Thunder
Dennis Smith Jr., New York Knicks

Skills challenge

Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics​
De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers​
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic

The rosters for the Rising Stars Challenge are set, with Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell and Luka Doncic leading the way.

On Tuesday, the NBA released a list of 20 players chosen to represent their countries and teams in the contest, where Team USA will face Team World.

Team USA are headlined by Utah Jazz star Mitchell, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kyle Kuzma and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.

Team World features Slovenian Dallas Mavericks sensation Doncic, Australian reigning Rookie of the Year and Philadelphia 76ers guard Simmons, last year's MVP Bogdan Bogdanovic from Serbia and representatives from countries across four continents.

Fifteen different NBA franchises will have players in the contest. Team World have won the past two challenges.

Celtics star Kyrie Irving will serve as Team USA's honorary coach, while Mavericks veteran Dirk Nowitzki will be the head man for Team World.

This matchup will be the fifth time the game will be in this format. It will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina on February 15.

 

Team USA:

C: Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets
F: Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings
G: Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers​
F/C: John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
G: De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
F/C: Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
F: Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers​
G: Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
F: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
G: Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

 

Team World:

F: OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors (Great Britain)
C: Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (Bahamas)
G: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings (Serbia)
G/F: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (Slovenia)
G: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Los Angeles Clippers (Canada)
F: Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets (Latvia)
F: Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls (Finland)
G: Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves (Nigeria)
F: Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers (Turkey)
G/F: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers (Australia)

Dirk Nowitzki turned 40 in the offseason. And he is German.

Those two totally unrelated facts led someone on the Dallas Mavericks PR staff with entirely too much time on their hands to create a spoof film starring Nowitzki as 'The 40-Year-Old German'.

With apologies to Steve Carrell and the cast of the 2005 hit comedy 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin', Nowitzki and team-mates Luka Doncic, Dennis Smith Jr. and J.J. Barea do their best to keep a straight face while recreating scenes from the movie. 

The team released the short video during the Mavs' game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.

Nowitzki reached yet another career milestone last week when he became the sixth NBA player with 900 career wins.

Take that, Steve Carrell.

Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki admitted his long-awaited return left him "so tired" as he made NBA history in his 21st season.

Nowitzki missed the start of the season due to a series of fitness issues, initially having bone spurs removed from his ankle and most recently experiencing tendon soreness before the start of a September training camp that pushed back his return.

But the 40-year-old was back on the floor against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday and became the first NBA player to get minutes on the same team in 21 different seasons.

Nowitzki nudged ahead of Kobe Bryant, who had 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, in a six-minute two-point stint that left him exhausted.

"Obviously the wind wasn't great," Nowitzki told reporters. "There was a stretch where I went back and forth a couple of times, then I fell over like a tree at some point because I was so tired.

"But it was good to be out there and I'm sure my wind is going to get better as we go."

The Mavericks went down 99-89 to the struggling Suns, but coach Rick Carlisle reserved some positive words for Nowitzki.

"All things considered, he did fine, did well," Carlisle said. "This is a challenging situation for Dirk.

"Coming back in and re-accumulate mid-stream, with no real live practice time to speak of, but he has been busting his butt big time. I respect the hell out of him for what he has done to get back on the floor."

Nowitzki was selected as the ninth pick in the 1998 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and immediately traded to Dallas. The 13-time All-Star is the seventh highest scorer in NBA history with 31,189 career points. 

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