FRISCO – Just because Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki retired from the NBA two months ago, that doesn’t mean he’s stepping away from hosting his annual Heroes Celebrity Baseball game.
For the eighth straight year, Nowitzki hosted the event Friday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco in front of a sellout crowd of 11,741 and prior to Thursday’s batting practice, the 21-year NBA veteran implied he has no intentions of stepping down any time soon.
“I don’t even know if it’s because I announced my retirement, but this event was sold out within the first couple days,” he said. “The response was fantastic, and it’s a no-brainer to keep this rolling by the way it’s going. It feels like the community is a part of it, and it’s always been fun.”
Nowitzki, who officially retired back on April 10 after 21 seasons with the Mavs, also mentioned jokingly how much he had been enjoying his time away from the game and that Friday night’s contest on the diamond would be some of the most exercise he had done since he last stepped on the court.
“I’m not missing basketball or missing working out one bit, to be honest,” he said. “After such a long time of that pressure of always staying in shape and doing stuff it’s kind of nice to enjoy life. Eventually I’ll find a routine where I work out a bit, but as of now I’m enjoying letting loose.”
Proceeds from Friday’s game benefit The Dirk Nowitzki Foundation and the Heroes Foundation, which is a nonprofit initiative bringing sports training and competition to children and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Joining the Big German Friday were some of the biggest names in DFW sports such as marquee Dallas Cowboys like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Jaylon Smith and Tyron Smith as well as former Cowboys Demarcus Ware, Herschel Walker and Dez Bryant.
Elliott, who was once again a member of the Blue Sox, led his squad against Nowitzki’s White Sox in a 17-10 victory and took home MVP honors.
Nowitzki’s squad took the rare loss despite featuring world-class athletes like Ware, Bryant and Prescott, as well as former MLB players Vernon Wells, Mike Bacsik and Rafael Palmeiro.
“Everybody gave me a hard time about stacking my own team, but I had nothing to do with it,” Nowitzki said. “But the blue team always comes to play, so they’re going to give us a battle.”
And that they did behind impressive performances from guys like Elliott, Cowboys offensive lineman Joe Looney and Mavericks forward Dwight Powell, who hit an inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning.
But at the end of the day, the final score is simply just that, as raising money for a charitable cause while giving back to the fans is really what it is all about.
“This is who Dirk is, and he’s always giving back,” said Mark Cuban, Mavericks owner. “This really gives people a chance to see everybody up close. You get to see these guys out of their uniform and away from their game day faces to really just see that they are good people that have a good heart and want to contribute back to the community. We’re also all here to just give Dirk a hard time as well as support him.”