March 23, 2017 | 11:21 am EDT Update
But Nowitzki doesn’t want the recent wave of admiration to be confused with some kind of farewell tour, because he doesn’t want to lose sight of the next game or the next practice. He’s not done yet. “I reflect at times, but I don’t want to reflect too much. I want to stay in the moment,” Nowitzki told The Vertical. “You reflect a little bit. All the hard work you put in, paid off. Go through everything. All the people that helped you around, your family, now wife and kids. The support system that’s been with you for so long. Doubters and critics early on. All that goes through your mind. It’s a feeling of a little bit of fulfillment. But just for a little bit. It lasts for a bit. And then you’ve got to keep plugging and keep getting better.”
“You’ve still got to enjoy the grind,” Nowitzki told The Vertical. “Sometimes it’s tough. If you don’t like the lifting and all the practicing, or the extra shots, I might as well retire. I still love the game. The practices. The weightlifting sessions in the summer, when you’re on vacation, all of that gets a little old. Once the game starts and the fans, that’ll always be fun. So I’m going to do it as long as my health holds up. And we’ll see how long it goes.”
“In my soul, I’m still young,” Nowitzki told The Vertical. “I probably joke around more than any of [my teammates].” Dallas is headed toward its first losing season since 1999-00, Nowitzki’s second in the league. But the Mavericks still have a remote chance of claiming the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference despite a miserable 3-15 start. Just getting into the postseason was once unacceptable for Nowitzki – but not when he’s missed 26 games mostly because of a nagging Achilles’ injury and definitely not when he’s on a team that has nine players 26 or younger. “It’s going to be tough, but just to be in position to fight for something means a lot,” Nowitzki told The Vertical. “Chasing the playoffs, I like to focus on that. That helps, fighting for something. No team has ever made the playoffs after starting 3-15, so it would be sweet, obviously, to make history.
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When the Nets signed Archie Goodwin to a 10-day contract last week, coach Kenny Atkinson stressed the 6-foot-5 combo guard filled a lot of boxes. He is athletic, young. He has talent and upside. There was something else. “Played football in high school. I like that,” Atkinson said. “Maybe that’s old school. I keep telling [general manager] Sean [Marks], we need more football players.”
That’s why Goodwin does not look back on his Phoenix days, when his coaches included Jeff Hornacek. Still, does he see Thursday as a “told ya so” moment? “Honestly, no,” said Goodwin, who after being signed out of the D-League is more intent on sticking with Brooklyn — hopefully as a point guard. “I’m better at point guard,” Goodwin said, “because I’m way more effective with the ball in my hands. I’m not the best shooter in the world. I feel I am a pretty decent shooter, but that’s not my strength. Me with the ball in pick-and-roll situations, getting it on fast breaks, getting it to the rim, kicking it out to teammates, that’s what it’s about for me.”