The 40-year-old showed his emotion during the game, fighting back tears just before action resumed at the start of the second quarter following a tribute video that detailed his holiday visit to a children's hospital.
Former President George W. Bush congratulated him on a great career and then jokingly added that if he gets bored with retirement he can join him in painting.
The 14-time All-Star has one game remaining, Dallas' season finale at San Antonio on Wednesday night.
Nowitzki will retire as one of the great forwards of all time, as well as a revolutionary figure both in the global sphere and the National Basketball Association sphere.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spoke after the game and promised Dirk a job with the team for life.
The sellout crowd that followed Cuban's orders by showing up early chanted "M-V-P" and "One more year" throughout the game.
Mnuchin says he'll 'follow the law' on Trump tax returns
And if the request ends up in the courts, the issue could linger unresolved until after the 2020 presidential election. Most tax attorneys would typically advise a client against doing so if they're under audit to avoid further scrutiny.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich spoke to the media ahead of the regular season finale against the Mavericks and spoke at length about Dirk Nowitzki, who is retiring after 21 seasons in the National Basketball Association.
We've thought it all year, but it's now it's official.
Despite the many celebrations, there was still a game to be had, and it was an emotional one. "But physically, the foot is just not quite there". I'll promise you that we'll retire your number, not a tough decision. I'm truly trying to see others grow.
He finished with eight rebounds, three assists and a block in a season-high 32 minutes.
According to ESPN, Crawford also became the first player to score 50 points for four different franchises (Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and now Phoenix).
"It will never be the same around here", said Rick Carlisle, who coached Nowitzki for his final 11 seasons.