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'Character on and off the floor': Statue of Dirk Nowitzki unveiled at AAC ahead of Mavs' Christmas Day game

"You deserve it for every fan of the Dallas Mavericks, for every fan of Dirk Nowitzki," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said.

DALLAS — On Christmas morning, the Dallas Mavericks unveiled a larger-than-life statue of Dirk Nowitzki on the PNC Plaza at the American Airlines Center.

"You earned it for every fan of the Dallas Mavericks, for every fan of Dirk Nowitzki," Mavs owner Mark Cuban told Nowitzki. 

"Talk about history," head coach Jason Kidd added.

"This beautiful art piece will be here forever, and you deserve it."

In their blue Santa hats and Nowitzki jerseys, thousands of fans filled the AAC and Nowitzki Way to watch as the statue was unveiled.

"That season was just such a great season to watch," Mavs fan Dax Yosten told WFAA ahead of the ceremony.

"I was always looking, when he was little, for someone who was a great example," Dax's mom, Shyla Yosten chimed in.

"And Dirk was a great example."

Hector Yang of Beijing told WFAA he drove all the way from Iowa, where he attends law school, to watch the unveiling ceremony in person.

Dirk, he said, inspired him to move to the United States. 

"Dirk has always been my model, since childhood, like 2006," Yang said.

The statue depicts Dirk making his famed one-legged fadeaway shot. 

"This thing will be here long after we are gone," Nowitzki said proudly as he admired the statue.

"And other generations can come here and be proud, so thank you guys," he told a cheering audience.

Later in his pregame news conference, Kidd took a moment to praise Nowitzki's humility.

"That’s just who he is, he doesn’t walk around with security, he’s just a normal guy that will take his kids to play tennis," Kidd said.

In his own news conference, Nowitzki addressed reporters who asked what he hopes his legacy will be.

"Be the best you can be," he said.

"Bring everything out of your talent, don’t leave any stone unturned...that was on the court. And I think the coolest thing off the court was how I grew into this community."

The bottom of the statue reads: "Loyalty never fades away."

That message has 21 letters, which represents Nowitzki's 21 years with the Mavs.

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