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Dirk’s ‘Will He/Won’t He’ Press Conference Begs Unsettling Questions

What exactly happened with Dirk last night? Not as much as Mavs fans feared, but that fear raises more and more questions. What happens to the Mavs without Dirk and how will Mavs fans respond?

Dirk’s ‘Will He/Won’t He’ Press Conference Begs Unsettling Questions

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Last night Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks (unknowingly & unintentionally) took the media and Mavs fans on quite a ride. It began before the Mavs took on the Bulls when it was announced that Dirk would “address the media” after the game.


Something as vague as “address the media” really had the minds of MFFLs racing as they tried to decipher what Dirk was going to say.



Despite the mystery shrouded in Dirk’s forthcoming “comments” there was still a game to be played. During warmups, the Mavericks looked loose and carried that attitude throughout the rest of their 107-82 win over the Chicago Bulls, leading the entire way. As soon as the game ended the waiting began…


The media1 flocked to the post-game interview room on the Event Level of the AAC.  Coach Carlisle stepped up to the podium and, normally, Mavs Director of Communications Sarah Melton speaks first and says, “We’ll start with questions.” But this time, Carlisle began by saying that Dirk was “called away” and will “make his comments on Monday.” The collective air left the room but the anticipation of whatever news awaited us still loomed…


Carlisle continued his presser discussing how well the team rebounded and Dwight Powell’s 17-point effort, but all anyone could think about was what Dirk was going to say Monday.  Melton asked if anyone had any more questions, but no one spoke.  Then, as a few people started to get up and leave, Carlisle flipped the switch and said that Dirk was in-fact going to address the media in the locker room and everyone can “untweet” what he said before.2



Immediately after Carlisle’s presser, Dirk’s locker was swarming with media members who had no interest in anyone else. Justin Anderson, whose locker is right next to Dirk’s on the left, came in and was surprised by the turnout and the commitment of the media. Then said that Dirk was “going to be a while” and that he was “talking to the German kid” (Chicago’s Paul Zipser). After Anderson, Devin Harris entered and revealed that Dirk was “eating a steak” while the media still waited.


At this point a few media members split off to interview Dorian Finney-Smith and Wes Matthews3.  Andrew Bogut came in after that and addressed the remaining media mob in his own way.



Finally, Dirk entered the locker room and made his comments:



In the end, nothing “earth shattering” was revealed by Dirk. He wasn’t announcing his retirement. He wasn’t announcing he was done for the year. He wasn’t even announcing a time frame for how long he would be out. He was just giving an update because he hadn’t spoken to the media in a while.


But what if he did announce his retirement? According to the Mavericks’ Basketball Communications Manager Scott Tomlin that type of announcement would be “more formal than comments at his locker [after a game].” Which makes total sense in hindsight, but several media members4 didn’t know the setting for these “comments” or the context. This miscommunication/misinterpretation was not the fault of the Mavs PR staff, Dirk was just going to give the media a simple update about his injury. The response of the media (to hang on every word that Dirk gives on the record) reveals the anxiety that lies within every MFFL and everyone that follows the Mavericks.


Change is hard. The Mavericks have won the second most games in the NBA over the last 20 years, they’ve been to the playoffs 15 out of the last 16 years5, and have won more titles than 12 other organizations6. This season, the Mavericks are on pace to have their worst record since 1994. To top that, their face-of-the-franchise-top-15-player-in-NBA-history turned 38 years old this summer and “Life Without Dirk” for MFFLs is looming.


Mavs fans under the age of 23 are literally experiencing a season of which they have no reference. Mavs fans under the age of 18 also have no reference for a Mavericks team without Dirk Nowitzki. To consolidate both events in one season would be beyond (quite literally) adding insult to injury, it would be torture for a fanbase that hasn’t even acclimated itself to losing yet.


He didn’t announce his retirement last night, but if he did, MFFLs may have been given a taste of the feeling they’ll get when Dirk does decide to hang it up for good. And it tasted like sadness.


  1. Including Michael Lark and myself
  2. Which we kind of did…
  3. But not me
  4. including myself
  5. Have to keep mentioning it while it’s still true
  6. Suns, Jazz, Nets, Magic, Pacers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hornets, Nuggets, Pelicans, Raptors, Timberwolves

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