The Dallas Mavericks are rebuilding for the future and Dirk Nowitzki seems likely to hang on for at least one more season. Here’s why devoting energy to a piece from the past is good for the future
For the first time, in what seems like decades, the Dallas Mavericks are about the future more than they are about the present. When you’re the last place team in the entire conference, rebuilding for the future kinda goes without saying.
This is uncharted territory for the Mavericks and their fans. Last season, largely marred by injury, produced the first losing campaign for the Mavs since the 1999-2000 season. Let that sink in. Jerry Jones would give up his left kidney to have a fraction of that success for his local team. But all good things must come to an end and after 16 seasons of being a contender, the Mavs are resigned to start over.
But a full ushering in of this new era may have to wait another year. Dirk Nowitzki, the most iconic player in the history of the Dallas Mavericks franchise, recently told Eddie Sefko athe the Dallas Morning News he feels like he’ll be coming back next season:
"“I’m not going to say 100 perecnt I’ll be back but it’s looking like it. I feel fine so far. I’ve played every game. I’d love to play all 82. That would be amazing at [age] 39. We’ll see how the body feels. But so far, it’s been fine.”"
The casualties of a rebuild vary from project to project, but the common thread all seem to share is the purging of the roster of all over-the-hill stars. And at 39-years old, Dirk Nowitzki safely qualifies as an over-the-hill star.
So how would Dirk coming back be a good thing for the Mavs?
It buys time.
As long as Dirk is playing for the Mavs, Dallas fans are going to the games. If you play him, they will come – so to speak. With the sellout last night against the Phoenix Suns, the Mavs now boast 720 consecutive sellout home games. That’s something no other NBA team can claim.
Do you think fans are going to games to watch an 8-22 team learn and develop? Are they coming to see Wesley Matthews’ stellar defense? Or Yogi Ferrell’s budding talent? Maybe a little bit but not nearly as much as getting the chance to see an icon like Dirk play a few more times before his career ends.
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Dirk Nowitzki is the biggest star this town has ever seen. With all due respect to Roger Staubach, Mike Modano, and Nolan Ryan, Dirk is the top DFW sports icon. He’s going to go down as an all-time top-10 talent in his sport, and only the city of Dallas gets to claim him as their own. Ask around, anyone who’s met him loves him. He’s perhaps the most humble superstar the world has ever seen. His self-deprecation is legendary. The people love the man and the man loves the people right back.
Dirk Nowitzki puts the butts in the seats and that is pretty darn important to a business owner like Mark Cuban.
Sure, Cuban has had to give away some tickets to keep his sellout streak alive, but don’t underestimate the impact Dirk’s presence in the lineup makes to nightly paid attendance.
There are no quick-fixes for the Dallas Mavericks as they embark on this rebuilding project. They are likely going to need one, if not two, more lottery players to build around. Not to mention a couple late round homeruns and/or free agency success to become a legitimate contender again.
For an owner like Mark Cuban, who is historically impatient with nearly everything, Dirk Nowitzki buys time. He’s not a progress-stopper as much as he’s a revenue source and marketing tool. He’s the face of the organization and distracts from the fact the Mavericks are a pretty poor basketball team right now.
If the Mavericks really want to rebuild the franchise and do it the right way, it’s going to take time. Dirk Nowitzki buys this franchise time and you, me, and every other MFFL gets to be treated to Dirk’s presence just a little bit longer.