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The NBA kept Dirk Nowitzki’s Teammate of the Year award a total surprise

Nowitzki went to New York to present an award and ended up receiving one.

Dirk Nowitzki didn’t know he was going to New York for an award. In fact, the NBA only said that they wanted him to present the Most Improved Player award, something he did later in the first NBA Awards show on Monday.

First, though, last year’s winner Vince Carter presented Nowitzki with this award, the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award. I’m told by the Mavericks that it was a total surprise.

If you listen carefully, you can almost tell the speech might have even been made up on the fly. Nowitzki is used to microphones after a 19-year career, so that must not have been too difficult, but he does seem the slightest bit caught off guard.

Though the voting was tight — Nowitzki won with about 50 more points than Tyson Chandler, who actually had more first-place votes — it was absolutely deserving. It’s also telling that Chandler, Nowitzki, and Jason Terry all finished in the top four. No wonder that 2011 Mavericks championship team was able to win it all. That team always talks about their chemistry together, and that wasn’t an act.

There are too many Nowitzki stories to tell in a single post, although Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Abrams recently attempted to dig up some new ones. Here’s that post, and here’s one excerpt from it.

Nick Van Exel: He just always used to sing. You were checking into hotels and you see your red light's beeping and you think you got a message from somebody. Next thing you know, you pick it up and check the messages, it's his dumb ass singing on your message with his guitar, some crazy stuff, but that was just him. He was just lighthearted, man. Liked to have fun, man, and treated everybody the same.

It really is impossible to find anyone who will say a bad word about the man. Nowitzki is just an incredible player, teammate, and person, and this is a very deserving award to add to the many forms of recognition he has received throughout his career.