Dirk Nowitzki is currently in the midst of one of the greatest playoff runs of all-time and he’s got his Mavericks four games away from an elusive NBA Championship. That’s the one thing missing from his impressive NBA resume. He has an MVP trophy and he has a number of all-star appearances, but he doesn’t have a championship ring. If there is a year for Nowitzki to get his elusive title, it’s this year as he has never played at a higher level. He led the Mavericks over the Blazers in the first round when many people doubted that Dallas would get out of round one, he led his team to a sweep over the the two-time defending champion Lakers, and he led a number of comebacks in the Western Conference Finals against the up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder. Nowitzki has averaged over 28 points per game on nearly 52 percent from the field and no team has been able to slow down the German sharpshooter.
The last time Dirk Nowitzki was in the Finals, his team gave up a 2-0 series lead and lost to Miami Heat in 2006. It’s something that Dirk hasn’t forgotten and Dirk and his Mavs now have an opportunity to avenge this loss against the South Beach All-Stars who are playing like the team everyone thought they would be when they got together. Nowitzki and the Mavericks have been extremely impressive in the postseason, but they will have their hands full with Miami and just like 2006, the Mavericks will probably have to watch the Heat hold up the championship trophy.
Dirk Nowitzki joined The Dan Patrick Show to talk about whether or not he doubted his ability to play in the NBA, if he thought about playing high school basketball in the United States, what he makes of Rick Carlisle saying that he was one of the ten best players of all-time, if he expects to see LeBron James guarding him at some point in the series, and whether or not he can be guarded by anyone in the league in a one-on-one situation.
Whether or not he ever doubted his ability to play and be successful in the NBA:
“I think early on in my career I had a tough time adjusting on and off the floor. The game was quicker and everything was more athletic so I had a tough time adjusting. Then I was a little more doubting hey was this what I wanted? Can I make it in this league? I think that’s where the doubts came from. Never from my shot. I knew my shot was solid enough, but just my all around game, my fitness and my athleticism, that was tough early on. It took me a good year or two to kinda adjust. Then I started to get better and improve and that was important.”
If he ever thought about coming to the states to play high school basketball:
“You know I was debating in my mind to come to high school already. I had that in the back of my mind but I figured I was sixteen and I was moving pretty well. I figured once I went to high school they were going to make me a back to the basket type of player and that’s not what I wanted and that’s not where I really saw my future. I decided against it. Looking back now it was a smart decision but back then it was pretty hard. America is where the game has been taught. I decided against it and it was at the time a pretty tough decision to make.”
What he makes of Rick Carlisle calling him one of the best players of all-time:
“I don’t really see myself as one of the greats of all-time. I said it, in his top ten there are like nine Celtics players and I’m the only non-Celtic so that whole top ten, you can throw that out the window. (Host: What did you think when you heard him say that?) I don’t know what he was thinking that morning. It was great to hear but I don’t really like talking about myself like that anyway. A championship would obviously mean a lot to me. Just overall that is one thing that I have been fighting for for 13 years. We came so close five years ago against the same team and they came back and beat us. That has been in the back of my mind for the rest of my life if I never would’ve gotten the chance. It will just mean more to me. I don’t care what it means to my legacy and all that stuff. It just means so much to me because I want to win, I play to win, and I’ve been in this league for a long time to get this chance again. That’s all I’m really worried about.”
If he expects LeBron James to guard him at times:
“I’m sure they’re going to go small. Oklahoma City did it here in the last game here and really chunked the game up and had some success doing it. I think they’re not going to start that way but sooner or later were going to be ready for a smaller lineup. I think we can be fine with smaller lineups. We’ve got a deep bench and we have shown that we can adjust to a lot of lineups and I think we can match up with basically anything that’s throw at us.”
Whether or not he feels any player can guard him one on one:
“I feel like I have the experience now where I can get to my spots and shoot over people. But hey sometimes it’s not about one on one, it’s what a team does with schemes. You saw Oklahoma City in the last series really started to flood the strong side and Miami guarded me pretty well in the ’06 Finals so you must think they’re going to throw some things out there and see what works. I’ve got to adjust my game. I still have to be in attack mode, but whatever they do if they decide to come or flood the strong side I have to spray it to my shooters and obviously to win it all you gotta play well on all cylinders. We all have to make shots and play well.”