PHOENIX — Dirk Nowitzki ultimately started his record-breaking 21st season with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday evening, coming off the bench in the primary quarter of a 99-89 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

No different NBA participant has performed that many seasons with the identical staff.

“It’s good to be again,” he stated after the sport. “Clearly I acquired lots of work to do timing-wise, conditioning-wise. I’ve been operating on a treadmill, which isn’t the identical as enjoying NBA velocity in opposition to a bunch of 20-year-old athletes.”

Nowitzki, 40, had been tied at 20 seasons with Kobe Bryant, who retired from the Los Angeles Lakers after the 2015-16 season.

Nowitzki had surgical procedure to take away bone spurs from his left ankle in April, and the timing was to be certain he could be prepared at the beginning of this season. However the 7-foot German had a setback earlier than coaching camp, with tendon soreness forcing him to proceed rehabbing the harm and lacking the primary 26 video games of the season.

He made his first look in the lineup this season with three minutes, 27 seconds left in the opening quarter. A minute later, he banked in his first shot in his stint on the courtroom. It was his solely basket in his six minutes of play.

“All issues thought of he did superb, did properly,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle stated. “This can be a difficult scenario for Dirk. Coming again in and reaccumulate mid-stream, with no actual dwell apply time to communicate of, however he has been busting his butt massive time. I respect the hell out of him for what he has performed to get again on the ground.”

The 2007 MVP stated the sluggish tempo of the rehab was to guarantee he would not be sidelined once more as soon as he returned. The 13-time All-Star has been steadily ramping up his exercise for a number of weeks.

Nowitzki, who led the Mavericks to their solely championship because the NBA Finals MVP in 2011, took satisfaction in enjoying 77 video games final season as a 39-year-old. He hoped for the same quantity in what may very well be his ultimate season. As an alternative, it has been extra like 2012-13, when he missed 27 video games after preseason arthroscopic surgical procedure on his proper knee.

The best-scoring foreign-born participant, Nowitzki is seventh on the profession listing with 31,187 factors. He was sixth to begin the season earlier than LeBron James handed him early. James is up to fifth, and Nowitzki wants 233 factors to go Wilt Chamberlain for sixth.

Thursday was the primary time Nowitzki had come off the bench since his rookie season in 1998-99.

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