Celtics fans, coaches, and players praise Dirk in what is likely his final game in Boston
Celtics fans were all excited for Boston's primetime matchup with the Dallas Mavericks Friday night. Although Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris were sidelined with injuries, the sold out TD Garden was ready with a clash with rookie sensation Luka Doncic and the Mavs.
As the game went on, it quickly became clear that Doncic wasn't the star that Celtics fans were eager to see. Towards the end of the first quarter, 40-year-old legend Dirk Nowitzki walked over to the scorer's table to check into what is likely his last game at TD Garden. He was met with a standing ovation from a sea of green:
As the game moved along and the Celtics built a comfortable lead, the priority for Celts fans became getting Dirk one last field goal on the parquet. The seven-foot German missed all three of his shots in the first half - all of which were three-pointers. Through three quarters, he was still held without a field goal on five attempts.
Therefore, by the fourth, Celtics fans were very antsy to see the 21-year veteran make one last field goal. In fact, Dirk only needed one field goal in the game to pass Kobe Bryant for the most points scored in the Garden by a Western Conference player. But I can guarantee you that the thousands of Celtics fans cheering him on didn't even know that - they were merely paying respect to one of the NBA's great big men.
Egged on by the Garden crowd, Dirk took three shots in the final minute of the game, including his trademarked fadeaway jumper on the baseline. He played 16 minutes which, beielieve it or not, were a season-high. Here is the special final sequence, where the big man missed two more three-pointers:
Boston really wanted to see Dirk hit one more shot, but it just wasn't in the books as he finished the game 0-10 from the field. Boston.com's Nicole Yang noted Dirk's appreciation of the love:
“It’s sweet when, not only your home fans but, fans on the road appreciate what you have done in the last two decades,” Nowitzki said. “I appreciate the fans of Boston and, unfortunately, I was really disappointed I couldn’t even make one.”
The fans weren't the only ones rooting for an opponent. The coaching staff and other Celtics players had nothing but praise for Nowitzki, starting with Brad Stevens:
“I’ve rooted for the opponent to score two times in my life: Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki,” coach Brad Stevens said after Boston’s 114-93 win. “I was sitting over there just like everyone else in the building, saying, ‘Go in. Go in.’”
Jaylen Brown shared some nice words about Dirk:
“It’s going to be a sad day when Dirk steps away from the game,” added Brown. “I got to spend some time with him in South Africa in Johannesburg. Just as he is a great basketball player, he’s a great person. He’s super cool, low-key, humble, and always joking around. When he finally steps away from this game — he gave so much to it — it’s going truly an honor. It’s just super cool to just be in his presence and watch him out there. He’s a true legend.”
Teammate Luka Doncic and Dirk himself commented on the Garden's gesture as well:
Luka has a little ways to go to get to Dirk’s level in the quote game. From Boston postgame PR release: pic.twitter.com/IXkzg3c3Yk