Ryan Broekhoff’s understated role in Dirk’s Dallas farewell

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Dallas Mavericks are inevitably headed for the lottery for the third year in a row once the 2018-19 NBA season concludes for them in mid-April. For their Australian rookie Ryan Broekhoff, this season has been a mix of finding his feet in the NBA world, the battle for consistent minutes, and getting caught in a season-long farewell tour for basketball icon, Dirk Nowitzki.

Broekhoff joined the Mavs during a transitional phase for the team: The proverbial passing of the torch from Nowitzki to rookie sensation Luka Doncic. Although the German has not formally indicated he will retire at season’s end, he’s been feted at every arena he’s played in as fans pay their respects to the greatest European player of all time.

“It’s very unusual to go to an away game and have the fans give a standing ovation for an opposing player,” Broekhoff tells ESPN. “Dirk’s done so much for this league, for this organization; raising the profile of basketball, not just here in America, but all though Europe. It’s fun to see him run out for possibly his last season. You can still see it at his age, even though he’s slowed down a little bit, he’s got so much talent and shoots the ball at such a high level.7

“We sort of joke around at the facility, and at practice and stuff like that. We get shots up and have a few competitions — I think we’re about tied at this stage. We haven’t done it too much but I remember he got me right at the beginning of the year and he got me, maybe in Indiana. He’s such an infectious personality with his work ethic and his positivity. To have him around and being able to joke around and shoot-around with him is pretty special.”

Nowitzki confirms that he has indeed lost a couple of competitions to the Australian, but adds that he hasn’t passed on any advice to Broekhoff.

“He doesn’t need advice, obviously he’s an older player already — he’s not 19 years old — he knows how to play,” Nowitzki said. “He’s a great shooter and when he comes in he gives us a lift and he competes.”