Photos: Monica Borja, Dallas Mavericks
AUSTIN – Texas lawmakers honored former Dallas Mavericks icon Dirk Nowitzki at the state capitol on Tuesday for his impact on the sport of basketball and praised his work through the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation.
Nowitzki also received bipartisan support from the Texas House and Texas Senate, in addition to receiving a standing ovation after legislators recognized him with a resolution.
In the Senate, Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, honored Nowitzki, calling him a “a true legend and icon.”
Nowitzki first stopped at the Governor’s Public Reception room to visit with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other Dallas-Fort Worth lawmakers. Abbott grew up in Dallas County (Duncanville) and was joined by state lawmakers from the DFW area.
“I would dunk on you,” Gov. Abbott joked. Nowitzki admitted that he’s been dunked on before, then Gov. Abbott quickly quipped: “But not by a guy in a wheelchair.”
Governor Abbott commemorated Nowitzki’s 21 seasons in the NBA, all with the Mavericks.
“We’re very proud of you,” Gov. Abbott told Nowitzki. “We are so glad you stayed with the Dallas Mavericks. What a great career, what a great legacy you have with Dallas.”
Nowitzki told lawmakers it was his first time to visit the city of Austin, and praised the area, calling it “very beautiful.”
After meeting with Gov. Abbott and posing for pictures with staff, Nowitzki next visited with Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) in a private reception with former Dallas Cowboys tight end Jay Novacek, plus his wife, son and their Labradoodle service dog.
The Novaceks were later recognized on the Texas House floor for their commitment to community work with Novacek’s 84 Labradoodles. The organization helps provide dogs to help children, adults and veterans overcome a variety of different challenges and obstacles.
Nowitzki then stepped to the House floor where Rep. Patterson read a resolution in Dirk’s honor. A portion of the House resolution reads:
WHEREAS, By continuing his legendary career into a 21st year with the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki has set an NBA record for the longest tenure with one team, and this milestone season offers a welcome opportunity to salute his exceptional accomplishments in professional basketball;
WHEREAS, Mr. Nowitzki earned a special place in the hearts of Texas sports fans in 2011, when he piloted the Mavs to their only championship to date, and he was named the NBA Finals MVP for his outstanding performance; a seven-foot-tall power forward whose perimeter shooting has helped revolutionize the position, he is the league’s highest-scoring foreign-born player, and he has rewritten the Mavericks’ record book, becoming the team’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocked shots, minutes played, field goals, three-pointers, and free throws;
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 86th Texas Legislature hereby congratulate Dirk Nowitzki on his exemplary career in professional basketball and extend to him sincere best wishes for the future; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be prepared for Mr. Nowitzki as an expression of high regard by the Texas House of Representatives.
After a short break, Nowitzki then joined the Texas Senate where Sen. West congratulated Nowitzki for the impact he’s had in Dallas.
“He’s been a true patron of the Dallas community,” Sen. West said, “and has formed an enormous effort to make a difference off the court, also.”
Legislators also congratulated Nowitzki for his work through the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation, which awards grants and funds projects to help children impacted by illness, poverty, abuse and neglect.
“Whether they want to be or not, great athletes are role models,” State Sen. Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, said, referring to Nowitzki. “You have been a great one of both.
“I’m thankful for everything you’ve done for the City of Dallas and basketball, and I’m certain you’ll continue to be a great role model for all of our young people and the rest of us.”