Dirk Nowitzki appeared on The Ben & Skin Show on 105.3 The Fan on Monday to talk about the season that was, the season that will be, and his Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game on June 24.
Listen to the full audio below, broken into two parts, and keep reading beneath that for some transcribed highlights.
On competing in his 19th season: It’s still fun being out there. It’s still fun to compete. It’s still fun somehow, knowing I’m a step or two slower, but still with my experience now and me being able to shoot, that that can still help the team in areas, and spread the floor for them if nothing else. That’s still fun for me. The grind sometimes gets a little old. When I play 30-something minute and the next morning we have a team practice, you should see me move. You think sometimes I move bad in a game, you should see me the next morning at 10 a.m. That’s a struggle. But I still enjoy it every day, getting ready, and the shooting, the extra stuff to get ready. Once that’s not fun anymore, it’s time to go. But the games will always be fun. The crowds, away and home, whether they boo you or they’re with you, it’s always fun to perform.
On his health situation and how much longer he plans to play: This year was a little struggle there with the Achilles, which was totally unexpected. It came out of nowhere. I missed almost two months, and it was really, really frustrating there at times. It just did not heal. Hopefully next year I won’t go through any of that and my body responds. We’ll sit together again with Mark and my family and Donnie, and make some decisions. But as long as it’s still fun, the body holds halfway up, I’d love to keep going.
On the Mavs’ ninth pick in the June 22 NBA Draft: It’s not like I really have a lot of input on these guys, but it’s clear we want a point guard, obviously. We’ll see. We got the ninth pick, which is hopefully a good omen. I heard Ro (Blackman) was the ninth pick, and somebody else was the ninth pick. Maybe we’ll find something special: a young guy who wants to play, who wants to get better, and has an immediate impact.
On seemingly every European big man being compared to him: It’s really an honor, obviously, to be around that long that now guys are getting compared to you. That’s an honor. I remember they drafted a guy in Denver named (Nikoloz) Tskitishvili, and I remember he was kind of the first guy – I think he was drafted in ’04, ’05 – who said he’s gonna be the next Dirk. There’s been plenty there that got compared. I think the most legit now is (Kristaps) Porzingis. He’s grown into his own already in Year 2. He’s gonna be fantastic for a long, long time in this league. This (Lauri) Markkanen kid looks pretty special. … We actually exchanged numbers, so if there’s any questions ever he can reach out. He seems like a really, really nice dude, so I wish him the best.
On his first season playing with Harrison Barnes: I love him. We got to actually grow really close this year. We’re next to each other in the locker room, we sit sort of close on the plane. I just spent a lot of time talking to him. He’s a really smart kid. I gotta say for a young kid in this league – it’s obviously his fourth or fifth year, but he’s got his stuff together. The stuff that the talks about, the way he acts, the way he represents himself – he goes to dinners with unbelievable people and puts these things together, and tours South Dallas and wants to see where he can help. Really, I’ve never seen a young guy that has his stuff together like he has. I’m really proud of him.
On his first season playing with Nerlens Noel: I think he can learn a lot. If you think about it, he’s 22, 23, but he’s been in the league already so long, but he came in so young. He’s got some habits I think that he needs to break, but his talent is there. The sky’s the limit. He’s smart, he’s got a good touch, he’s quick to the ball, he knows how to finish. He’s a little undersized at center but he makes up for it with quickness, with athleticism. He’s got great hands. He’s been fun. When he got hurt there for three or four games is where things went south for us. We made a great run there, won a couple in a row, and then his knee swelled up on him and we had a bad stretch there. We lost I think three in a row, and that’s when the playoffs kind of went away for us. But he’s played well. Every time he was out there for us he was a factor, and he’s an important piece for us.
On proprietor Mark Cuban’s admission that the team was tanking down the stretch: In my first year it was the same way. It was a lockout year, and there was pressure. We were around the playoffs. And then when we were completely out of the playoffs the last 10 games, Nellie was like, ‘OK, now it’s your time to shine. There’s no pressure. Gain as much experience as possible.’ Those 10 games were some of the most important of my career, looking back now, playing well. One game I had 28 points. That gave me a lot of confidence going into the summer for year 2. Work hard, I think you can be in this league. It’s obviously both sides. You want to win games, but you want your young guys to gain some experience. That’s what we did.
The Ben & Skin Show airs weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 105.3 The Fan.