It seems like every single day in the NBA is about LeBron James. He is news and his dominance in the game is so great that it can sometimes undermine the achievements of other great NBA players. April the 10th 2019 however was a different day with a different story.
Dirk Nowitzki and Dwayne Wade both ended their 21st and 16th seasons respectively on April the 10th, scoring 20 points in front of an ecstatic crowd. The two were franchise players. Nowitzki only ever played for Dallas. A remarkable achievement as not many players spend an entire career at just one club. Even if Wade played two years in Chicago and Cleveland, he will always be regarded as a Miami player.
Wade announced his retirement before the season started. What followed was something similar to a Rock Star on his farewell tour. He exchanged jerseys with a player from each team he faced. 82 teams, 82 jerseys. His opponents and the opposing fans gave Wade the sending off he deserved. Arenas were packed. His peers showed Wade the respect he had earned on the court over 16 seasons playing at the highest level.
For Dirk, it was slightly different, but just as special. Aged 41, his body had had enough. Every basket he scored received a standing ovation. Regardless of the city or opponents. He only officially announced his retirement during his last game at home. It was a secret many already knew. It was as if it was too hard to admit before the final game that Dirk was going to hang up his boots.
The tribute videos prepared by the clubs for their players were emotionally packed. Fans love good players who are dedicated and loyal. If they bring titles to the club, then even better. D-Wade and the Wunderkid, who by the way enjoyed a fierce rivalry, did exactly that. They clashed during the 2006 Finals when the young Wade became NBA champion. Five years later, Dirk finally conquered the crown as he led Dallas to their first NBA title of the century.
Beyond the talent and the accomplishments of them both, for fans around the world they were one of the main reasons to tune in and watch the NBA. They were an excuse to stay up late at night to watch the best players playing the best basketball on the planet. For basketball fans old enough to have seen them play, like myself, they will always be remembered, along with LeBron James.