Rivers' reasoning became clear a few seconds later when he walked to the marker's table, picked up the announcer's microphone and gave an impromptu tribute to Nowitzki, the legendary face of the Dallas Mavericks franchise that is in its 21st season.
"Dirk! Dirk!" Rivers screamed, gesturing to the Staples Center crowd to express thanks to the all-time great who was perhaps playing his last match in the arena, then pointed to Nowitzki. "Let's go! Let's go! Let's go!"
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"One of the greatest of all time, Dirk Nowitzki!"
Nowitzki, who was standing in the painting, replied with a sheepish smile and a thumbs up to Rivers. He then greeted the crowd while he received a standing ovation, while Rivers and the Clippers joined the fans to applaud him. Several Clippers approached Nowitzki to congratulate him on his career as the ovation continued.
"It was nice, I really appreciate it," Nowitzki said after the Mavericks' match. Loss 121-112 to the Clippers. "At first, I wondered" Why does Doc call a timeout? What's he doing with [9.4] remaining seconds? What's he preparing? Then he grabbed the microphone. I did not really understand much, but it was really humiliating. It was a moment of emotion. "
Nowitzki took an important step Monday in the 1,500th game of his career, ranking behind Robert Parish, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and John Stockton in the history of the NBA. Nowitzki kept a match point.
Rivers says that he has not planned the tribute, but he takes the opportunity to give Nowitzki a deserving dispatch, having regretted not having done so for the retirement. Dwyane Wade when the Miami heat visited earlier this season.
"It was just, we had a track and I had a timeout," Rivers said. "Honestly, I did not plan it, I just felt he deserved it.
"You know what's funny, was it Miami?" I thought we had not given [Dwyane] Wade, as if it was a close match and I think they won the match and Wade played as he should play another five years – so I would not let that happen again. I just did it."
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle thanked Rivers for his action after a brief conversation after the match.
"It's one of the best things I've seen," Carlisle said. "I know that there will be other times similar to those, but it was an original, I have never seen anything like it."
It was the result of an unofficial farewell tour for Nowitzki, who had 12 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes on Monday, the highest of the season. Although he has not decided yet whether he will return or not to next season, Nowitzki has been treated as a legend who is retiring in arenas around the NBA. He has also been designated as a member of the Special Alignment with Wade for the All-Star Game.
Nowitzki first noticed the special treatment of Mavericks on the road Charlotte Hornetswhen fans chanted "We want Dirk!" in the last minutes. He mentions that receptions in Boston, Indiana, and New York are also particularly memorable.
"They make the decision for me, I guess," said Nowitzki, smiling. "We'll see what the season is going to bring, but it's been great, I mean, really moved in some of these buildings." The fans' reception was amazing, much of it, of course. "
Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN contributed to this report.