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'Body,' not Mavs record, will decide when Dirk Nowitzki calls it quits

From ESPN - November 14, 2017

DALLAS -- Even the career of "The Big Mummy" does not stand a chance against Father Time.

Dirk Nowitzki has embraced the nickname bestowed upon him by big-mouthed former teammate and current Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Darrell Armstrong, even participating in a spoof video shown on the arena big screens during games earlier this season.

The self-deprecating Nowitzki's stiffness is both a source of comedic fodder and a serious issue for the Mavs and their future Hall of Famer, as there's nothing funny about all the time Nowitzki needs to spend maintaining his body -- stretching regimens, massages, strength and conditioning work -- to get on the floor.

"He's got to do so much to keep himself going to be able to play with us," said Mavs reserve guard J.J. Barea, the only other player on the current roster who was part of the 2011 championship team. "I know he's having a tough time with his body...

"It's a full-time job."

Year 20 could potentially be it for Nowitzki, who has matched Kobe Bryant's record for longest career while playing for only one franchise. Nowitzki, however, hopes to play at least one more year.

"It's how the body feels," Nowitzki told ESPN, adding that the Mavs' place in the standings wo not play a part in his decision.

"I'd love to play every game. I am not sure how realistic it is, but that's how I approached the season. I want to be out there, want to move and want to be out there with the guys. We will just have to sit and relax [after] I play through the season and see how I feel. Probably that decision wo not be made until the summer."

"He's still complaining like he's 82 years old, still cracking jokes and giving people s---. He's still Dirk."

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

The Mavs hold a team option for the second season of the two-year, $10 million deal Nowitzki signed over the summer. But there is zero question about whether Nowitzki, as loyal as anyone who has ever played in the league, would be welcomed back. The Mavs control the contractual option, but the decision is Nowitzki's to make.

"I hope so," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said when asked whether he believes Nowitzki will opt to play next season at age 40. "I think there's a really good chance he is [coming back], because he wants to break the record for years with one team and be that one guy. Not many people have that opportunity.

"He's still having fun," Cuban added.

The camaraderie has not changed with Nowitzki as he's gotten older. He remains a relentless trash-talker in the locker room, around the facility, and on buses and planes, and never shies away from poking fun at himself.

Last week, Nowitzki playfully made a spectacle of himself by attempting the dribble moves made famous by Mavs player development coach God Shammgod.

.@swish41 breaks out his best @therealshammgod crossover at @dallasmavs shootaround in D.C. pic.twitter.com/DpIKbPYLlu

Earl K. Sneed (@EarlKSneed) November 7, 2017

"He's still complaining like he's 82 years old, still cracking jokes and giving people s---," Cuban said. "He's still Dirk."

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