Dirk Nowitzki has played his last game for the Dallas Mavericks…this season.
Rumor has it, though, he still has plenty of outings left in him for next year.
The 20-year veteran underwent surgery on his left ankle and is now done for the year, which comes as a major bummer. On the bright side, this season-ending hiccup isn’t expected to prevent him from returning for his 21st go-round in 2018-19, according to ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon:
The notion that this injury would change Nowitzki’s train of thought might seem stupid. All indications we’ve received from him suggest he’s intent on returning to the Mavericks. But, like, the dude is 39. He turns 40 in June. Having to rehab any sort of injury at this stage of his career might just not be worth the trouble in his eyes.
Complicating matters even further is the fact he’s apparently been dealing with this left ankle pain all year, per The New York Times‘ Marc Stein:
Some will see this as admirable, and dammit, it is. But why stave off surgery for so long when your team is going nowhere? Wouldn’t you rather get right and return next season a healthier version of yourself, assuming you plan to return at all?
This isn’t to say Nowitzki has been contemplating retirement. But you have to think the preference to savor every last bit of NBA action he has left played into him laboring through this injury.
Anyway, enough with the depressing, psychological-babble speculation. Here’s hoping Dirk does, in fact, come back for 2018-19. The NBA isn’t yet ready for life without him.