Fans were eager to see future Hall of Famers Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki’s final All-Star Game practice.
NBA All-Star Weekend is underway and the fans in attendance at Bojangles Coliseum got treated to a practice between Team Giannis and Team LeBron. It will also be the last All-Star game meeting between legendary hardwood hitters Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki.
All of the players were in attendance. First Team Giannis was introduced and held a lighthearted practice for the fans.
Nowitzki is playing in his 14th and final All-Star appearance. The 7-foot German and future Hall of Famer, who turns 40 this summer, played his entire two-decade career with Dallas.
He moves like an old man, but the jumper is still wet and the passion and love for the game is evident, even in his record-tying 21st season.
To put Dirk’s OG status into perspective, he first appeared in the MTN DEW 3-point contest in 2000, when defending champion Devin Booker was 3 years old.
Nowitzki is the bridge between the NBA when foreign players were still trying to prove that they could call in The League. In his rookie season (1998-99), the NBA had 38 international players representing 27 countries and territories on opening-night rosters. This season, the NBA featured 108 international players from 42 countries and territories — increases of 184% and 56% respectively, from his rookie season.
The squad is loaded with All-Stars like Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook, but Nowitzki is one of five foreign born players on Team Giannis; Greek Freak (Greece), Joel Embiid (Cameroon) Nikola Jokic (Serbian), Nowitzki (Germany), Nikola Vucevic (Montenegro).
Because of Dirk’s influence on the NBA’s global expansion, the game will reach fans in 215 countries and territories in 49 languages across all mediums.
Team LeBron is loaded and the favorite to win according to a quick poll I did of other reporters covering the NBA All-Star Weekend. When LeBron takes the court he will tie Kobe Bryant for the most starts in NBA All-Star Game history.
However, the compelling story is Wade, who like Nowitzki, is playing in his final All-Star game before retiring and eventually being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The three-time NBA champion, who helped LeBron James win his first two NBA titles soaked in the moment with his son, attending both practices.
A mob of reporters and social media mavericks followed Wade as he walked into the arena with his son next to him and greeted fans, players and the NBA family so anxious to say their final goodbyes to one of the greatest guards to ever play the game.
Wade is 14 years older than Ben Simmons, the youngest player on Team LeBron and he’s making his 13th All-Star appearance. Wade was MVP of the game in 2010, a year after he won the scoring title.