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Doc Rivers stops game to pay tribute to NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki as Dallas Mavericks icon plays final game at Staples Centre

Doc Rivers Dirk Nowitzki – Legends don’t come about too often, so when one is on the verge of retirement, sometimes a regular send-off just won’t cut it.

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers took a timeout with 9.4 seconds left against the Dallas Mavericks to pay tribute to soon-to-be-retiring legend Dirk Nowitzki. With the Clippers leading 121-112, Rivers made his way to the scorers table, picked up a microphone and said: “let’s go, let’s go, let’s go’, one of the greatest of all time, Dirk Nowitzki!”

The crowd then proceeded to shower the German NBA legend with a standing ovation, who after 21 seasons, looks set to have played his last ever game at the Staples Centre ahead of his expected retirement this off-season.

2011 NBA champion Nowitzki was not the only departing legend to play his last game at the Staples Centre this season. Dwayne Wade also graced the iconic LA venue for one last time but did not receive a similar send-off from Rivers, although the Lakers, who share the same stadium, gave him a pre-match tribute back in December 2018.

“That was just, we had a lead and I had a timeout,” Rivers told ESPN, continuing with: “honestly, I didn’t plan it. I just felt like he deserved that.

“You know what’s funny, was it Miami? I thought we didn’t give [Dwayne] Wade, like it was a close game and I think they won the game and Wade played like he should play five more years … so I wasn’t going to let that happen again. I just did it.”

Nowitzki, who became only the fourth player in NBA history to play in 1500 games against the Clippers, delivered a typically understated and subtle response to the surprise gesture:

“It was sweet. I’m really appreciative. At first, I was like, ‘Why is Doc calling a timeout? What’s he doing with [9.4] seconds left? What’s he up to?’ Then he grabbed the mic. I didn’t really understand much, but that was really humbling. That was an emotional moment.”