Mavericks Luka Doncic gets reminder from Dirk Nowitzki

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The message was simple and to the point for Luka Doncic: stay with the Dallas Mavericks throughout your career, and you will be treated as royalty in the city of Dallas for as long as you live.

On the Christmas weekend win over the Lakers, the Dallas unveiled their statue to the franchise’s greatest star and most beloved figure, Dirk Nowitzki. The former NBA MVP and World Champion resides on a level of stardom that only Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Nolan Ryan, and Mike Modano know here in north Texas.

Nowitzki spent his entire 21-year career in the city of Dallas. When things looked bleak, he stayed. When teams and players came calling, he stayed. When super-teams started to take over, he stayed. He stayed until he delivered a championship and then he stayed a little longer.

No other city but Dallas would get to claim Nowitzki as their own. Well, no city other city in North America, at least…

The German-born superstar was an anomaly in the modern era of basketball.  In an age where players have the brand, notoriety, and outside sponsorship money, they also have the leverage to go where they please. Nowitzki just never wanted to leave.

And the city will forever be grateful.

Dirk Nowitzki has again shown Luka Doncic the value of staying with the Mavericks for an entire career

Playing on Year 1 of a five-year/$215M contract, Doncic isn’t set to explore the market until after the 2026-27 season. While that may seem like an eternity, it’s close enough to be on the minds of just about everyone within the organization.

On the day in which his statue outside American Airlines Center was erected, Dirk Nowitzki himself offered up a not-so-subtle remainder for how beneficial playing for one franchise can be. When asked about his record for most seasons with one franchise being broken one day, Dirk responded, “We hope Luka can break it.”

Obviously, in order for that to happen, Luka would have to stay with Dallas throughout his career.

The Dallas Mavericks have to pull out all the guns to sell their message. The team they’ve surrounded Doncic with certainly isn’t doing them any favors. The Mavs seemingly regressed in the offseason and don’t have a clear path to improvement waiting on the horizon. Unless they can unload ugly deals or willfully absorb other teams’ ugly deals to boost their talent, they are up against a wall right now.

Standing 18-16 the Mavs are just barely above .500 and likely to slot in to the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff seeding. For a team that relies on defensive effort and 3-point shots dropping, anything can happen in the postseason. But early returns from the roster this season are uninspiring making many wonder if the Mavs are wasting Luka’s best seasons.

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Dirk Nowitzki showed Luka Doncic that tough seasons are not a waste of time and that eventually loyalty can, and will, pay off.