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Big D: Dallas renames street Nowitzki Way, to honor Dirk

DALLAS (AP) — Retired Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki joined a few hundred people Wednesday at a ceremony to rename a city street as Nowitzki Way in his honor.

The big German accepted the gesture with characteristic humor and humility.

“It’s sort of surreal,” he said. “From my first year, the city probably wouldn’t have named a Dumpster after me.”

Nowitzki, now 41, retired after last season, his 21st with the franchise. The 14-time All-Star is easily the greatest player in Mavericks history and the highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history. The 2007 NBA MVP will forever be beloved around here for helping Dallas win its only championship in 2011 when he was NBA Finals MVP.

Nowitzki Way is the former 2900-3000 block of Olive Street south of the American Airlines Center, where Nowitzki played 18 of his NBA-record 21 seasons with only one franchise. The City Council approved the name change in a unanimous vote. Most of the event was moved inside on a cool, windy day.

“It’s a little bit bigger than basketball,” Nowitzki said, choking up. “This is about my relationship with the city. There was a lot of love that I’ve received from this community.”

He then noted that there were questions about why the new street was not “Dirk Drive or Dirk Way.”

“This is for my family to be represented,” he said. “First of all, I never drove much in my career.”

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson spoke of Nowitzki’s civic-mindedness in the city where he arrived as a 20-year-old in 1998.

“Dirk reached out to me personally to ask what he could do to help our city after the (Oct. 20) tornado” Johnson said. “He and (Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher) Clayton Kershaw came to our emergency operations center to greet our city employees who had been working around the clock.”

Since his retirement in April, Nowitzki has devoted time to his wife and three children, and to the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation, established in 2001. Its mission is the betterment of health and welfare of children and women.

The ceremony was attended by former and current Mavericks and all three of his coaches, Don Nelson, Avery Johnson and Rick Carlisle, who brought along a reminder of the greatest highlight for Nowitzki and the Mavericks. The coach wore a “champagne-soaked” suit that had been in his closet since June 12, 2011, when Dallas won its title.

“I felt some day there would be an appropriate time to wear this again,” Carlisle said. “This is a beautiful day.”

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban inherited Nowitzki when he bought the team in 2000. At that time, he heard criticism of the young player.

“He was soft, and slow, and couldn’t really play,” he recalled of those opinions. “Trade calls would come in, and Donnie (Nelson) would be, like, ‘Nope. This guy’s the real deal.’”

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Davis is four games into his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, and he’s already in good company.

Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, George Mikan, Shaquille O’Neal — and now AD.

Davis had the fourth 40-point, 20-rebound game of his seven-year career and set a franchise record with 26 made free throws as the Lakers rallied in the second half for a convincing 120-91 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.

He joined those Laker greats as LA players to get 40 points and 20 rebounds.

“It’s an honor to be on that list with those legends but more important is we got the win,” said Davis, who was 26 of 27 from the line. “It was a grind in the first half and my teammates trusted me. I just tried to be a monster on the glass.”

It is Davis’ first 40-20 game since 2016. He’s the first Laker to do it since O’Neal in 2003.

Davis played only 31 minutes. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player to have a 40-20 game in 31 minutes or less since 1954-55. Prior to Davis, the quickest 40-20 game was 33 minutes by Baylor in 1961.

Davis is also the fourth player in league history and first since Michael Jordan in 1987 to make 26 or more free throws.

“This solidifies why we went out and got him. He was big time for us,” said LeBron James, who scored 23 points for the Lakers. Los Angeles is off to its first 3-1 start since winning its first eight in 2010.

Davis was questionable two hours before the game due to a right shoulder injury suffered in Sunday’s win over Charlotte. He did some dribbling and shooting on the court before being cleared.

Davis had 16 points and nine rebounds in the first quarter but went back to the locker room at the start of the second to get the shoulder checked and re-taped. Coach Frank Vogel thought he might have to go the rest of the game without Davis until he saw him come back to the bench.

“He gutted it out playing in some pain and was dominant. They didn’t have an answer and he was terrific,” Vogel said.

Los Angeles trailed for most of the first half but took a 49-47 lead into the locker room at halftime when Davis grabbed a rebound, drove down the court and tipped in his own miss at the buzzer.

The Grizzlies (1-3) led 65-59 with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter when the Lakers went on a 27-2 run to close out the quarter. Davis scored 16 points during the rally, with all but two coming at the line. The final 10 Lakers’ points in the quarter came via Davis’ free throws.

“Everyone was playing well,” Davis said. “I was just trying to be aggressive. It was a close game until the third quarter. I knew some of their players were in foul trouble and tried to get them out of the game. “

Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins agreed with Davis’ sentiment, saying “I thought he was super aggressive, and you are rewarded when you are aggressive.”

Davis said his shoulder was still sore after the game, but he thinks it will improve since the Lakers have a couple days off.

Memphis raced to a 15-2 lead before Los Angeles started to work its way back. Ja Morant led the Grizzlies with 16 points, and Jonas Valanciunas added 14 points and 11 boards.

Morant, who was the second pick in the June draft, had only three points in the first half before finding his groove in the second.

“Coming into an environment like this we have to play all four quarters,” Morant said. “It was wow moment coming in (facing James and Davis) but I was still trying to go out and play my game.”

•••

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: Memphis finished 22 of 23 from the line but was 7 of 34 on 3-pointers. … Grayson Allen came off the bench to score 13 points.

Lakers: Avery Bradley had 12 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 11, with all but one coming in the fourth quarter. … Los Angeles finished 33 of 39 on free throws.

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: Host the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night to start a three-game homestand.

Lakers: Begin a three-game road trip against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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