Dirk Nowitzki is truly a once in a lifetime basketball player. He revolutionized the power forward position. In addition to that, he helped break the stigma or label that all European players were considered spot up shooters and soft. He’s also a once in a lifetime player because he makes himself so open to the media. Take the game against the Los Angeles Lakers. It was once again another game where the Mavericks were unable to execute down the stretch. It was a nationally televised game against one of the league’s most prominent teams. It had two of the league’s recent NBA champions dueling from the uncomfortable position of being outside the playoff picture. It had the feel of a playoff game.
The loss by the Mavericks really put them behind the 8-ball in their chase to make the playoffs. It was an opportunity lost as Dallas ultimately spoiled Dirk’s best game of the season. Whether they win big or lose in heartbreaking fashion, Dirk always steps up and lets the media talk to him (unless the media decides to call a truce and give the Tall Baller From the G a night off). For those who don’t know, players really only talk for one, two, maybe three minutes and then they’re done and they don’t have to talk after every game. Not Dirk. After the game against the Lakers, Dirk spoke to the main pool of media for just about five minutes. He answered questions about how he felt, how it was a frustrating loss and other items (some that don’t always make sense). Dirk finished his interview and got himself ready to leave the locker room. From time to time, select media members will stay and linger to gather more information.
This second round of discussion lasted for nearly seven minutes. Again, seven minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but he’s being asked questions about a variety of topics and he answers every single one of them and doesn’t hold back. As he scratches his still-developing beard and plays with his wedding ring, Dirk looked into the future and opened up about how he might be hanging around the league longer than people expected. He talked about the CBA, Kobe Bryant and bear hugs.
Here is a special kind of Quoteboard. Enjoy Dirk.
On how he feels about his body: “I’m definitely happy with where I’m at again, especially how ugly it was when I first came back. I definitely worked hard to get back to this point. I feel good. I want the ball in the fourth to make something happen, for sure.”
On if it’s tough not getting enough shots in the fourth: “Metta World Peace had me in a bear hug for the last couple of minutes so it was kind of tough to get me the ball there. When I had it, I tried to make a move. I got fouled and on top of it they hit me with a (technical foul) so that was a tough sequence there.”
On how much he reflects on how much longer he can play: “Honestly, I had some doubts here when I came back. It took so long. Is it ever going to come back? It was a tough stretch for me coming back from the surgery. The way I feel now, I still think I can play a couple of years. Obviously, if you’re tall and you can shoot like Sam Perkins and those guys, they can play until the end of their 30s if you’re out there and you’re spreading the floor. Obviously, in five, six years, if I make it that long, I’m not going to like take every shot in the fourth quarter, but I’m going to be out there spacing the floor and be smart if I make it that long. I’ve always said it’s got to be fun. Once it gets to the point where the fun is gone and I just go to work, I’d rather just retire. I’ve got this year and next year under contract, so I’ll be 36 and for sure play a couple of more years.”
How important is it to feel like you’ve got a chance to win it all? “Once you’ve won it all and had that feeling, that excitement in the city and the franchise, you don’t want to play basically for the eighth seed two straight years, so it’s been tough. We made some business decisions obviously we all know about, so we’ll see what we get out of this. We have cap space for the first time in a long time. We’ll see if we can make something happen this summer.”
On the Lakers and other big franchises ignoring the new, harsh penalties of the CBA: “Obviously, this year they let it all hang out. I said it a couple days ago, the Lakers with the TV money, the Knicks and the Nets, those are three teams that really don’t care about the luxury tax. I think all the other teams are going to try to find a way to be a good team right around the salary cap or maybe a little lower, but under the luxury tax because the luxury tax is going to be brutal here, especially next year. Those three teams don’t really care. You saw this trade deadline. Teams really didn’t really take money back. Everybody else is going to try to find a way to have a good team right under the luxury tax.”
Is there jealously that the Lakers and other teams do that and the Mavericks don’t? “We’ll make it work. Cuban said his bank is open so we’ll see what happens this summer. It’s going to be a big summer for us. We want to get back to winning ways. We’ve always competed and were a part of the playoffs, so we’ll see happens this summer. It’s going to be a big summer for this franchise, for sure.”
On Mark Cuban’s Shark Tank money helping the bank of Cuban: “Yeah, he’s got the Shark Tank so maybe he decides not to film July 1st this time.”(I told Dirk that Cuban already said he needs that time off to the shows’ producers) He isn’t [filming]? Good. *With a grin* We’ll see what happens.”
Could you really be a 40-year-old role player? “We’ll see how it goes. When my [current] contract’s up, I’m 36 and I’ll definitely sign a couple more years because it’s still fun, but I don’t know if I’ll play until 40. But when I’m 36, definitely sign one more deal, maybe two or three years.”
On changing his stance to opening up the possibility of another deal to play that long: “Yeah, now I feel good and I’m having fun again. It was a tough time coming back from knee surgery. It was brutal and a frustrating time. I feel good again.”
On Kobe Bryant saying he’s done after a couple more years and that’s it. Does he believe Kobe? “We’ll see. The way he plays now, he can still do it for a couple more years. He looks amazing this year and really aggressive and quick. He looks great to me. It’s up to him, I guess. He’s a phenomenal athlete and player. He can probably do it as long as he feels like he can do it.”
On when it’s time for a new contract, does he expect to get ‘Dirk money’? “Well, I think it’s a little too early to look, honestly. Basically the last couple of times, there was not much negotiating going on. It was, ‘Give me money and I’ll stay,’ right?” *laugh* “I gave him a little discount last time. The CBA’s changed. We’ll talk about that when it gets to that point. I’ve still got this year and the full next year. We’ll see what happens and where this franchise is. It all depends on a big summer. This is a big summer.”
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.