ARLINGTON, Texas — Dirk Nowitzki eventually plans on working out again. The recently retired star of the Dallas Mavericks wants to stay in somewhat decent shape.
The big German hasn’t put a timeline on it — he’s assuming several more rounds of pizza and ice cream will come first.
Nowitzki looks relaxed and happy, with a neatly trimmed beard surrounding a wide smile, nearly two months after announcing his retirement on the court after his final home game in his record 21st season with the same franchise.
“It’s been everything I dreamed of, drinking, eating everything in sight,” Nowitzki said after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Texas Rangers game this past week. “On vacation without really worrying about anything, about staying in shape. I’m going to start working out again and enjoying that. But as of now, I have zero motivation to go work out.”
The 40-year-old wants to spend time with his wife and three children and visit Germany more often to see his aging parents.
During the emotional ceremony after the home finale, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban promised the best player in franchise history a job for life. Nowitzki says it’ll be at least a few years before he takes Cuban up on the offer — or decides to do something else.
“I’m sure there’s another challenge out there waiting for me,” Nowitzki said. “As of now, I don’t think that’s something I think about. I want to do some stuff that I wasn’t able to do the last 20 years. Eventually, that’s going to get a little old and I need a new challenge in life.”
The city of Dallas has started the process of renaming a portion of a street near American Airlines Center to Nowitzki Way. A few weeks before throwing out the first pitch at a Rangers game, Nowitzki tried a penalty kick during halftime of an FC Dallas soccer match — unsuccessfully, according to young heir apparent Luka Doncic.
Nowitzki also hosted his annual charity baseball game, featuring Dallas Cowboys stars Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The event always sells out a 10,000-seat minor league stadium north of Dallas, but the 14-time All-Star wondered if brisker sales this year had anything to do with his retirement.
He’s noticing those sorts of things more now and pausing to consider why people approach him in public to thank him for staying in Dallas for one of the longest careers in league history.
“That means a lot,” said Nowitzki, who broke a record Kobe Bryant held at 20 seasons with the Lakers. “When you’re so busy and trying to keep winning games, you never really take a step back and really soak that up or really get the grasp of how many lives you’ve touched over two decades.”
The early part of the offseason has always been about unwinding for the highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history.
But this one has been different — the smiles while talking about taking the kids to Disneyworld, the jokes about weight (already at least 20 pounds over his playing days). But Nowitzki says at 7 feet, “you can hide it pretty good.”
“He’s already put up hall of fame numbers, and I think he’ll show the stamina and the stability to be able to eat ice cream for the next 30 years,” Cuban said, joking. “Probably the happiest man in Dallas right now is the guy who makes Dirk’s suit.”
When he retired, Nowitzki made no secret about plans for his next big party. It’ll be June 19, when he turns 41. That’s the number that will soon hang in the rafters of the 2007 MVP’s old home arena — and a number that’s iconic for fans who celebrated the franchise’s only championship with their NBA Finals MVP in 2011.
Nowitzki has been hit and miss on watching the playoffs because of the travel. He saw some of the early games, including Kawhi Leonard’s improbable series-winning jumper for Toronto against Philadelphia in the second round.
Nowitzki says he sat there thinking, “You’ll never get to do that again. So that was a little bit a sad moment.”
But for Nowitzki, who is sixth on the NBA scoring list with 31,560 points, the feeling didn’t last long. And there haven’t been many since he’s retired.