Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki named All-Stars

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Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki were once bitter rivals.

Now, they together represent the NBA’s old guard. They’re all-time greats nearing retirement. Wade said he’d retire after the season, and though Nowitzki hasn’t confirmed anything, this seems like his last year.

Before riding off into the sunset, they’ll share a special honor.

NBA release:

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade have been named by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as special team roster additions for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In honor of their extraordinary contributions as iconic NBA champions and beloved ambassadors and in recognition of their All-Star careers, Nowitzki and Wade will take the court for the 68th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 17 at Spectrum Center.

“Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade embody the best of the NBA: remarkable skill, drive and professionalism as well as a deep devotion to strengthening their communities and growing the game around the world,” said Silver.  “As a global celebration of basketball, our All-Star Game is an ideal setting to salute these first-class NBA champions and Finals MVPs.”

Nowitzki and Wade will be selected in a new third round of the 2019 NBA All-Star Draft, adding a 13th player to each active All-Star Game roster.  TNT will air the NBA All-Star Draft on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. ET.  TNT and ESPN Radio will air the Feb. 17 All-Star Game matchup between Team LeBron and Team Giannis live in the United States at 8 p.m. ET.  NBA All-Star 2019 will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages.

Team captains LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks will select the 10 All-Star Game starters in the first round, the 14 reserves in the second round and Nowitzki and Wade in the third round.  Team LeBron will make the first pick in the first and third rounds and Team Giannis will have the first pick in the second round.

I’ll be the grump. I don’t really like this. Wade and Nowitzki have earned so many honors throughout their career. They don’t need to be handed one they don’t deserve. All-Star appearances are an annual honor used judge legacies, and Wade and Nowitzki are no longer stars. Honoring them in some other way during All-Star Weekend would be great. I just see All-Star appearances as for players who earned them.

And yes, there were already complications with fans voting in starters who weren’t deserving based on play. That was a thorn. The league needn’t create more.

Plus, where does this end? Exactly two all-time greats don’t retire every year. Will there be one addition or even three additions some years? All-Star rosters needn’t be balanced. Will there be no additions some years?

Hopefully, this is a pathway to the NBA permanently expanding All-Star rosters to 13 deserving players per team. That’d match regular-season active rosters and, with an all-time high 30 teams in the league, make All-Star status more in line with its historical value.

To be clear: My only annoyance is with Wade and Nowitzki getting an extra All-Star appearance on their record. It could be fun to see them in the exhibition game (though there’s also a good chance that moment falls short of expectations). I hope their Charlotte experience goes well and creates cool moments.

Spoiler before that: LeBron James will select his friend Wade. Giannis Antetokounmpo would probably prefer to play with Nowitzki, an international trailblazer, anyway. So, that all works out.