The Dallas Mavericks lead their division with a 14-9 record, but they’ve gotten there without the usual play of star Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki, who carried the Mavs to the NBA title last season, recently missed four games with a banged-up knee and is averaging fewer than 10 points per game in his three outings since returning to the court.
Charles Barkley, of course, has an opinion on it, and says Nowitzki is simply getting old, like the rest of the Mavs.
I’d also encourage you listen to his pitch on why you should be in Las Vegas this weekend, where he might be drunk by the time you’re reading this.
Charles Barkley joined ESPN Dallas with Galloway and Co. to discuss the terrible play in the NBA to this point, how it can be solved, why Dirk is struggling, why Mavericks fans should be concerned, how he could fall so far in such a short period of time, heading to Vegas for the Super Bowl, which team he’ll bet on and his friendship with Bill Belichick.
You’ve complained about the play in the NBA this year, but you’re not giving it a free pass because of the lockout are you?:
“Let me tell you something, if these teams had two weeks’ rest, they’d still think. You think it’s really due to the lockout? There’s so many bad teams in the NBA, as a fan. I’m a fan, first and foremost. I’m embarrassed at some of these teams that we’re putting on the court every night. It’s not fair to the fans. Seriously, it’s a joke.”
If it’s not the lockout, how did it happen?:
“I’m a big proponent of us finding a way to keep some of these players in school longer. Some of these guys have the talent, they just don’t have any idea how to play basketball. I’m a big proponent of let’s find a way to keep these guys more in college. To be honest with you, I hate saying this because I don’t think it’s fair for me to give away other peoples’ jobs, but I think we need to really sit back and think about contraction at this point.”
What do you think is wrong with Dirk Nowitzki?:
“Dirk’s getting old, bro. Dirk’s getting old. … Dirk’s been a great, great player for a long time. At some time, he’s been in the playoffs pretty much every year. Father time, bro. Father time is catching up with him. That’s all it is.”
So you think Mavericks fans should be concerned?:
“Oh, ya’ll should be concerned. The Mavs ain’t going to win the championship. It’s over. … They can’t beat Oklahoma City. I watched that entire game. I don’t think they can beat Denver or Portland. Those are the best three teams I saw in the West all year. They’re too old and too slow.”
But this player looked like he was the best in the world six months ago:
“That’s the way it happens, bro. You drop off the face of the earth. His days of being the man, those days are over. I hate to break it to you. I lived it. When you’re a great player, it hits you quicker, too, more than anybody, because you have further to fall. You can be a guy that’s a good, solid player and you can hide it for a couple years. When you’re a great player, you have farther to fall. … Remember Michael Jordan with the Wizards his last couple years? He came down. Everybody comes down.”
When are you heading west to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl?:
“This time tomorrow, I’ll be sitting at a blackjack table. And I don’t care what the dealer’s got, every time I get 11, it’s an automatic double down. … You’ve got to go to Vegas for the Super Bowl. It is the greatest weekend, the greatest place to watch the game. I’ve been like 15 years in a row, probably 20 years, I should say. I went to the Super Bowl a couple times and it’s just too many people and just a security nightmare. I went to Vegas one time for the Super Bowl and I’ll never miss Vegas again. … I’ll be drunk by this time tomorrow night.”
Where do you watch the game?:
“Every casino obviously has a big convention center. You’re in a room with about 5,000 people and you’ve got these big 100-inch scoreboards all around that’s got the game. You’ve got waiters and waitresses, it’s probably the length of two football fields. The room is going nuts. … You’ll see somebody get a sack and you’ll see a couple tables go nuts because they bet on the sacks in the game.”
Which team will you bet on?:
“I am terrified right now, to be honest with you. I’ve got no idea about this game. I’m going to bet the game. … But right now, I am terrified because I have no idea who’s going to win that game. I’m still trying to figure out why the Patriots are favored, to be honest with you. … The Giants have played better the entire playoffs. The Giants have played unbelievable. They beat the two best teams in the NFC on the road to get to the Super Bowl. “
On being friends with Bill Belichick:
“Me and Coach Belichick are good friends. … We’ve been friends a long time. We became friends when he was coaching back in Cleveland. … He’s a very engaging guy and has got a great sense of humor. He’s a very engaging guy. I think if you watched that documentary, you got to see that he’s a lot more friendly and a lot more funny than people give him credit for. He just don’t trust the press and why would you trust the press?”