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Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Three reasons Germany is retiring Dirk Nowitzki’s number

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Three reasons Germany is retiring Dirk Nowitzki’s number

Dirk Nowitzki is a 2011 NBA champion, 14-time NBA All-Star, 2007 MVP, and 2011 Finals MVP. For all of his accomplishments, Nowitzki’s home country, Germany, will be retiring his number. The ceremony will take place on Sept. 1 at the FIBA EuroBasket 2022.

Dirk, who currently sits sixth on the league’s all-time scoring list, is the highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history. He led Germany to the bronze medal in the 2002 FIBA World Championship, where he also went on to win the Gazzetta dello Sport’s European Basketballer of the Year, which he won six times overall. In 2005, he became the FIBA European Basketball Player of the Year after leading Germany to a silver medal.

His iconic No. 41 jersey already hangs in the rafters of the American Airlines Center, home of the Mavericks, but what makes the impending Germany number retirement so special?

Surprisingly, in the German basketball federation’s 73-year history, no other player has received the honor of having their number retired.

Why Dirk Nowitzki?

Even through his vast accomplishments and accolades accumulated through his 21-season run with the Dallas Mavericks, Nowitzki stayed true to his roots. Constantly honoring his home country, giving back to the community, and staying humble through it all.

1. Dirk’s Humanitarian Efforts

Dirk continually gives back to his home community of Germany. With his own foundation, he strives to “help provide education, health, and well-being for these children and to make a difference in their lives.”

In 2007, the NBA awarded Dirk with the NBA Community Assist Award for his ongoing community support and philanthropic work. Similarly, in 2013, Dirk became the UNICEF German ambassador. He focused on fighting malnutrition and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Just four years later, Dirk received the H. Neil Mallon Award, which recognizes individuals who promote “the international focus of North Texas“, for his humanitarian efforts.

2. Dirk’s Nationalism

In addition to his humanitarian efforts, Dirk became an icon in Germany. He was a trailblazer in the sport and remains the greatest basketball icon in the country. While soccer and handball persist as the country’s two main sports, basketball has risen in popularity in Germany.

“Words can’t describe what Nowitzki did for this country, for the fairly small number of basketball fanatics here,” PistonPowered’s Jakob Eich, a basketball writer and German, said. “He’s our son who went into the Wild, Wild West and succeeded. It’s a modern-day fairy-tale … As long as you work hard and lead by example, you will succeed. That’s why the championship meant so much to the German fan base. He’s one of ours, and he keeps the dream alive that anyone can make it.”

Quote via PistonPowered

Nowitzki represented his country while playing, even carrying the honor of being Germany’s flagbearer in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“I never thought I would be chosen to carry the flag but maybe it’s happened because a lot of athletes identify with me,” Nowitzki said of the experience.

Quote via FIBA Basketball

3. Humble champion

If anyone deserves this honor, it would be Dirk. He stayed loyal to the Mavericks through 21 seasons, winning the team’s only NBA championship. As Dallas fans grew to love him, so did his German fanbase. It’s hard not to love Nowitzki, as he stays down to earth, varying much from the current boastful player mentality. Even his German mentor, Holger Geschwindner, is still a part of Dirk’s life. Dirk continues to honor him, and Holger even witnessed Dirk surpass 30,000 points.

Dirk is alongside numerous other players becoming commemorated for their accomplishments. With the NBA honoring the late Bill Russell by retiring his number league-wide, Dirk joins an iconic list of incredible players.

Germany’s retirement of Dirk Nowitzki’s number proves his notoriety and respect within the basketball world. An all-around amazing player who also gives back and stays true to his roots. What more can you ask from an athlete?


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Kristina Barnett

Dirk is such an inspiration on and off the court! Great article!

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