Nowitzki still with Mavericks because ‘this is where my heart is;’ believes in revamped teamBy Jaime Aron, AP
Monday, September 27, 2010
Nowitzki on Dallas: ‘This is where my heart is’
DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki would have listened if LeBron James or Dwyane Wade asked him to join them in Miami.
Since they didn’t, he never seriously considered leaving the Dallas Mavericks.
“I wanted to weigh my options a little bit, but there was not much weighing to do,” Nowitzki said Monday. “This is where I was at, this is where I wanted to be, really. This is where my heart is at, so it was a really easy decision in the end.”
Nowitzki never had a news conference after signing a four-year contract worth around $80 million, so his appearance at media day was both a chance to look back and to look forward.
He’ll open his 13th training camp Tuesday already the most accomplished player in franchise history with every meaningful career feat, an MVP award and an appearance in the finals. He’s also the lone constant in a streak of 10 straight 50-win seasons.
However, he’s also in jeopardy of becoming one of those great players who never win a championship, and that’s what drives him.
That’s why South Beach might’ve been enticing.
“It obviously would have been something I had to think about very hard,” Nowitzki said. “My goal is a championship and obviously that would’ve been a nice option to have. But it never happened so I didn’t have to think about it.”
Nowitzki turned 32 this summer, so he knew his first time on the open market also was “the last time I was going to be a free agent when it mattered in my career.”
But there weren’t any contenders missing only a 7-footer who likes to shoot from the perimeter. And because of his championship obsession, he wasn’t interested in going to the highest bidder.
“It wouldn’t have felt right to put another uniform on,” Nowitzki said. “The fans, everybody here have been so loyal to me the last 12 years, it would have felt like running away a little bit, in a way. So I’m here for the long run — four more years to reach our goal. I’m ready.”
He even took less than a maximum contract so the Mavericks could enhance his supporting cast. The result is a deep team with all sorts of versatility — big guards and small guards, a frontcourt featuring bulky center Brendan Haywood or a more athletic look with Tyson Chandler.
Nowitzki also is excited about changes in the backcourt, like the expanded role for speedy Roddy Beaubois.
Beaubois was a raw rookie last season who showed in the playoff finale against San Antonio that he could provide a spark either playing alongside Jason Kidd or taking his place at point guard. A foot injury forced Beaubois to miss some valuable playing time with the French national team and will force him to miss much of training camp, but he should be ready for the regular season.
“I think our future is in Roddy’s hands,” Nowitzki said. “He’s explosive off the dribble. A second before he makes a move, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. That unpredictability he brings to the game I think is what we need.”
Nowitzki thinks the makeup of the roster should help Dallas compete with anyone in the West, including the two-time defending champion Lakers.
The challenges will be for coach Rick Carlisle to figure out the roles and for players to accept whatever role they’re given. For some guys accustomed to starting, that could mean coming off the bench — sometimes or always.
“You can’t have hurt feelings on any good team,” Nowitzki said. “We’re beyond that. If you want to win a championship, you can’t be running around being mad all the time at the coach or the situation. I think we’re all in this together. Some nights, coach has showed, that his substitution pattern is different, I would say. Some nights you might play a lot of minutes, the next night you might not see the court. That’s just Rick. You’ve got to get used to it.”
The depth could lighten the load for Nowitzki, both in minutes and scoring (he’s scored the fourth-most points in the NBA each of the last two seasons).
He’s ready for anything.
He took a 3½-month break from basketball this summer, the longest since he got serious about the game as a teenager. He spent the down time “traveling and doing fun stuff in the summer like other NBA players do” instead of playing for the German national team.
He also came back about 5 pounds lighter.
“I just think if you look at all the players that were able to hold their level when they were older, they either stayed the same weight they were in their prime or they lost weight,” he said. “I think it’s easier on your body, easier on your joints.”
After all, he’s going to be a free agent again in four years.
Tags: Dallas, Men's Basketball, North America, Professional Basketball, Texas, United States