The “biggest, most badass statue ever” will be erected in front of the American Airlines Center in honor of Dirk Nowitzki on the night of his final home game in 2019 for the Dallas Mavericks, as promised by governor Mark Cuban.
“It’s a promise that gives me joy to deliver on, because you earned it,” Cuban said to Nowitzki on Christmas morning, a few minutes before the nearly 24-foot-tall statue was unveiled just steps from the street that was renamed Nowitzki Way a few years ago.
The white bronze sculpture depicts Nowitzki’s iconic one-legged fadeaway jumper, the same shot that can be seen silhouetted near the left block on both ends of the American Airlines Center court. The shot became known as “The Dirk” while Nowitzki moved to the 6th spot on the NBA’s unsurpassed scoring rundown, and it has become piece of the collection of a few current players, including the two stars who confronted each other on that equivalent floor Sunday evening, the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and the Protesters’ Luka Doncic.
“It had to be a fadeaway one-legger,” James said of Nowitzki’s statue after the Mavericks’ 124-115 win over the Lakers. “It had to be. No question about it. Dirk is a legend. He’s an icon. I think he’s the greatest international player ever. I put him right there with Manu [Ginobili]. But what he brought here, what he brought to this city … that boy was cold, man. Dirk was cold.”
Doncic, a number of other Mavericks, and Dallas coach Jason Kidd, a teammate of Nowitzki’s, attended the ceremony.
“One more stop: the Hall of Fame,” Kidd said, referring to Nowitzki’s certain inclusion in the next Basketball Hall of Fame class as a first-ballot selection.
The statue was created by Omri Amrany, an artist who has made several statues to honor NBA greats like Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, and Michael Jordan. The sculpture is rich with subtleties, utilizing the shoes and uniform that Nowitzki wore while driving the Free thinkers to the 2010-11 NBA title, the establishment’s solitary title.
The following is written at the statue’s base: “Loyalty never fades away,” a nod to Nowitzki’s dedication to Dallas throughout his entire career, where he set a NBA record by playing 21 seasons for a single team.
“I just kind of sat down, like, ‘What do people associate you with in Dallas?'” Nowitzki said. “It was these two things. It was the fadeaway and the loyalty. We kind of combined that. It was just a fun fact that it was 21 letters for the 21 years.”