If you read my column regularly, you probably know that I’m a big Dallas Mavericks fan, and if you follow basketball, you definitely know that this season is Dirk Nowitzki’s last in the NBA.
I grew up idolizing this guy, and he showed me that a lanky, slow, white guy can play basketball at the highest level and be considered one of the greatest of all time. This was particularly inspiring to me because I myself am a lanky, slow, white guy that loves playing basketball. While the 5-foot-5, 12-year-old Nick Mersch who had a budding obsession with the superstar wasn’t quite lanky yet, he was still white, slow and looking for inspiration.
Nowitzki’s final season has been something of a beauty to experience. Everywhere he goes, he gets standing ovations, and opposing crowds get off their feet in excitement when he makes a shot. These are fans that have all lost at the hand of Nowitzki. Some of them have even had their hearts broken by a Nowitzki take-over in the fourth quarter, but they still get off their feet and cheer this 40-year-old on.
This is a common occurrence in sports; we’re seeing it right now with Dwayne Wade and Ichiro Suzuki as well, and I’m all about it. Particularly, I never liked Wade, mainly for the travesty that was the 2006 NBA Finals and how it was officiated for him. However, during his farewell tour, I find myself getting excited when I see him play well or hit a big shot.
As sports fans, why do we do this? Don’t we live in a cruel world where people don’t care about anyone but themselves? I thought so, but this is proof that there’s hope for the human race yet. Obviously, a fan reaction isn’t indicative of the status of humanity; however, it’s cool to see such heartwarming wholesomeness coming from the world of sports. Fans are putting aside their selfish desires in order to honor players that sacrificed around 20 years of their lives for their respective games. I don’t think anyone can disregard that. A legend is a legend, and I’m glad the sports world realizes that as a whole.