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Making his first appearance of the 2018-19 season, Dallas Mavericks all-time great Dirk Nowitzki took the floor last night in Phoenix, returning from April ankle surgery and setting a record in the process.
The big man appeared in his record-breaking 21st season with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, but it was not enough to lift the Mavs over the Phoenix Suns in a 99-89 loss, dropping Dallas to 15-12.
Nowitzki came off the bench in the first quarter, and in six minutes made one shot before leaving the game.
“It is good to be back,” he said following the short outing.
“Obviously I got a lot of work to do timing-wise, conditioning-wise. I have been running on a treadmill, which is not the same as playing NBA speed against a bunch of 20-year-old athletes.”
Nowitzki’s 21st year with the Mavs sets a record as no other NBA player has played that many seasons with the same team.
Nowitzki and Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant had been tied with each playing 20 years for the same franchise before last night’s game.
“All things considered he did fine, did well,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of the outing for his 40-year-old big man.
“This is a challenging situation for Dirk. Coming back in and reaccumulate mid-stream, with no real live practice time to speak of, but he has been busting his butt big time. I respect the hell out of him for what he has done to get back on the floor.”
Last season Nowitzki played in 77 games for Dallas, averaging 12 points and 5.7 rebound per game. While he’s not talked about next season, many expect this season to be his last in the NBA.