As the National Basketball Association continues evolving into the new age of stars, many legends and all-time greats are entering the final stages of their career. Los Angeles Lakers fans are familiar with this situation, after giving their final goodbyes to the departure of Kobe Bryant and his legendary 20-year career.
While Bryant remained the face of the franchise for many seasons, his battles against other contenders and their stars made for some exciting basketball.
One such opponent was Tim Duncan, who quietly went into retirement, in opposite fashion to Bryant. The duo battled against each other for many seasons, as the San Antonio Spurs and Lakers battled atop the Western Conference.
Another rival through the 2000s was the Dallas Mavericks, with their leader, Dirk Nowitzki. The two had 49 regular season meetings against each other, with Bryant capturing 32 of the 49.
While the 38-year-old Nowitzki only won 17 of the regular season matchups, he did win their lone playoff encounter, their 4-0 sweep on the path to his lone championship.
The Germany native signed an extension this offseason with the Mavericks, getting another two seasons for $40 million. While the two seasons are slated to be his last, Nowitzki isn’t exactly thinking retirement yet.
In an interview with SportsDay Dallas News, Nowitzki provided clarity with his outlook on his final seasons and whether he would prefer to go out like Bryant or Duncan:
You know, I loved the way Kobe went out … with a 60-point game? That’s so Kobe like. The whole arena was standing up the whole fourth quarter. So much fun to watch. But I’m more like a Duncan guy. More a quiet guy. I don’t need the limelight as much. Maybe not quite the just e-mail, Hey, by the way Tim Duncan is retiring. I thought that was a little low profile. Maybe there’s a little press conference or something. I don’t know, I don’t really want to think about it because I know it’s gonna come up soon anyway. I’m just gonna enjoy the last couple of years.
Bryant, who went out with his 60-point performance against the Utah Jazz, finished his career with a Hollywood ending.
In comparison, the Duncan announcement came as a shock, with it staying under wraps until Duncan submitted his email to the Spurs.
During Nowitzki’s 18 seasons in the NBA, he is averaging 22 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. The 13-time All-Star is another rare example of how a player can ignite a country, as his outlook with basketball in Germany is similar to that of Pau Gasol and Spain.