DALLAS – On the night Dirk Nowitzki’s jersey was retired last season, Dallas Mavericks governor Mark Cuban vowed to erect the “biggest, baddest statue” ever in front of the American Airlines Center in honor of the legend.
“It’s a promise I’m happy to keep because you’ve earned it,” Cuban told Nowitzki on Christmas morning, minutes before the nearly 24-foot-tall statue was unveiled on the street that was renamed Nowitzki Road a few years ago.
The white bronze statue is a sculpture of Nowitzki’s iconic one-legged jumper, the same shot that is silhouetted near the left block at either end of the American Airlines Center court. The shot became known as “The Spot,” while Nowitzki moved up to sixth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and became part of the repertoire of several current players, including the two stars standing on that floor Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and Mavericks’ Luka Doncic.
Doncic and several other Mavericks attended the ceremony, as did coach Jason Kidd, a former teammate of Nowitzki’s.
“One more stop. Hall of Fame,” Kidd said, referring to Nowitzki’s certain inclusion in the next Hall of Fame class as a first-ballot selection.
Artist Omri Amrani created the statue, one of several he has made to honor NBA legends, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal. The statue is richly detailed, using the shoes and uniform Nowitzki wore while leading the Mavericks to the 2010-11 NBA Championship, the franchise’s only title.
At the base of the statue is written: “Loyalty Never Fades,” a tribute to Nowitzki, who spent his entire career in Dallas, setting an NBA record by playing 21 seasons for one franchise.
“I just kind of sat down, like, ‘What are you being linked to in Dallas?'” Nowitzki said. “It was these two things. It was disappearance and loyalty. We kind of put it together. It was just a fun fact that it was 21 letters in 21 years.”