When Dirk Nowitzki burst onto the scene around the turn of the century as a seven-footer from Europe who was a fluid athlete with unlimited range, many thought he had revolutionized the game. Blame Darko or just awe in the impressive gap between Dirk and everyone else, but the league is not too rich with players like him. Dirk should get far more credit for that than being a revolutionary. He’s much closer to LeBron and Kobe than he is to Hedo or Bargnani.
Dirk is a perennial MVP candidate from a team that consistently competes in the hotly contested Western Conference despite a roster that turns over often and numerous head coaches – one of which Dirk claims below is a “circus” – with drastically differing styles. He’s never complained and always shot lights out and remained among the league’s elite. At 31 years-old, Dirk is still clearly one of the top ten players in the League. No other seven-foot Europeans with unlimited range come close to that list.
Dirk Nowitzki joined The Ben and Skin Show on ESPN Radio Dallas to discuss this year’s Mavericks, Game One of the Playoffs, Don Nelson and his dog, Rick Carlisle’s personality, and his future in Dallas.
On how this team is better than the team that made the NBA Finals:
“We got more scorers. We are deeper off the bench. We are longer. We are more physical defensively. We have two legit centers now. I really like what this team has. The only problem is, like I said the last couple of weeks, the West is so good. Eight teams won fifty games-plus. That’s very rare in the history of the NBA. It shows how deep this league is, especially in the West… but I definitely like our chances if we defend, if we play well together offensively, move the ball, play off each other. I like our team a lot.”
On Game One against San Antonio:
“We did what we had to do – find a way to win, but we in spurts it wasn’t pretty. The game wasn’t great there. It was a little sloppy with a lot of turnovers on our side too. But we hung in there. We made some timely shots. The pick and roll we did mess up a bunch of times, but we made up for it with effort and hustle. We definitely have some stuff to look at it. And really, what I said, I mean it. This win didn’t mean nothing if we don’t win Wednesday, so we need more of the same effort. The intensity was great. The building was on fire so we need more of the same on Wednesday.”
On if he would ever consider leaving Dallas:
“Not really. I don’t think it would feel right. For some reason, ever since I came here in 1998-99, the fans embraced me. I kind of almost felt like they were waiting on me or something. We have had a great relationship – me and the city – for the last 12 years.”
On wackiest thing Don Nelson ever did:
“It was probably when I got here late at night to shoot. I think he had back problems at the time. He was in the hot tub with his dog. Nelly was an absolute circus. He was so much fun to be around on a daily basis, but he was definitely different.”
On why he doesn’t shoot as many threes as he used to:
“That trend really started when Avery came. He wanted me more down on the block, getting more points in the paint. I went away from shooting some of my threes. Sometimes if I get a good look and I’m open, I still think I got that weapon and I’ll still shoot it, but most of the nights, I like the mid-range game a little better now. I still got that in my game, don’t get me wrong.”
And on something that would surprise people about Rick Carlisle:
“He does have a little sense of humor.”