Record-setting Nowitzki concedes he's short of fitness

Dirk Nowitzki admits he needs to get up to speed after making NBA history against the Phoenix Suns.

The 40-year-old German set the record for most seasons with a single team, 21, by appearing for the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.

He finished the night with two points in six minutes in the 99-89 loss.

"It is good to be back," he said.

"Obviously I've got a lot of work to do timing-wise, conditioning-wise. I have been running on a treadmill, which is not the same as playing NBA speed against a bunch of 20-year-old athletes."

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added on NBA.com: "All things considered he did fine, did well. This is a challenging situation for Dirk. Coming back in and re-acclimatise mid-stream, with no real live practice time to speak of, but he has been busting his butt big time.

"I respect the hell out of him for what he has done to get back on the floor.”

Nowitzki had surgery to remove bone spurs from his left ankle just before the end of last season. The 13-time All-Star was on schedule to be ready for the start of this season before suffering a major setback. He was experiencing tendon soreness before the start of training camp in September, which forced him to push his timeline back.

Nowitzki remains the seventh-leading scorer in NBA history with 31,189 career points. 

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