Dirk Nowitzki’s signature one-legged fadeaway is now cast in bronze.
The 23-foot-high statue in front of American Airlines Center, unveiled on Christmas Eve prior to the Dallas Mavericks’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers, honours the greatest player in franchise history, who arrived as a 20-year-old from Geelong.
He retired in 1998 with 31,560 points, the sixth-most in NBA history, 12 All-NBA selections, and a Most Valuable Player award.
Of course, Nowitzki also led the Mavericks to their one and only NBA championship in 2011, defeating the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in six games. The statue’s image of Nowitzki is from that season, including the same uniform and shoes he wore during the Mavericks’ championship run.
The statue was designed by Omri Amrany, an Israeli who studied in Italy before moving to the United States in the 1980s. Since 1994, when he was chosen to create a statue of Michael Jordan, he has established himself as the premier sculptor of NBA legends.
According to D Magazine, Amrany e-mailed Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in 2019 after seeing Cuban promise to erect the “biggest, baddest statue ever” in front of the stadium to honour Nowitzki’s retirement.
Amrany told the magazine that he sought advice from Nowitzki’s longtime coach and mentor, Holger Geschwindner, and that Nowitzki was involved in the process “every step of the way…more involved than many other players I work with.”
The plate at the base of the statue reads, “Loyalty never fades away,” a reference to Nowitzki’s 21 NBA seasons with the same team. The 44-year-old recently became eligible for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and is almost certain to be inducted in the class of 2023.