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At what point do you think the Mavs shut Dirk down for good this year? Cowlishaw: I don't think that will happen. Shutting him down might mean saying goodbye. If Dirk can't play and produce it some point, he probably won't come back. He made that clear to German media recently. So at some point Mavs need him on the floor if they don't want to close the curtain on one of the greatest player of all time.
Dirk Nowitzki renewed his contract with the Dallas Mavericks for two more years on summer, but an issue with his Achilles tendon might force him to call it a day earlier than expected. As the great German forward said to BILD, retirement might even come in 2017. “If things don’t go so well and it hurts everywhere, it could be that 2017 will be the end.”
Nowitzki once again emphasized that his plan to complete two full decades with the Mavs doesn’t guarantee him remaining active until the completion of this ambition. “Actually, my plan is to complete the 20 years and play for Dallas until 2018. But just because I have signed a two-year contract doesn’t automatically mean that I will play for two years. It could happen next year.”
Nowitzki signed a two-year, $50 million contract with the Mavs this past summer with high hopes of honoring that contract. What has happened to his body lately hasn’t changed his stance. "I want to get back on the court as soon as I can -- that’s really all I’m worried about for now for this year,’’ Nowitzki said. "I think we can re-evaluate this summer, I’ll talk to obviously the trainer (owner mark) Cuban and my family and kind of just make a decision there. But for now I’m all-in and I want to play. This obviously not a career-ending injury, it’s just something that keeps lingering unfortunately. Hopefully sometimes soon I’ll be out there and then stay out there. I don’t want to jump in and out of the lineup with soreness. I want to be healthy and stay out there.’’
In discussing the latest development with his injury, Nowitzki said he "had a little setback,’’ but he hopes this is not something he has to deal with for the remainder of his career. "I’m hoping that it heals pretty soon here and I can play the rest of the season pretty pain-free,’’ Nowitzki said after Saturday’s 107-82 win over the Chicago Bulls. "Achilles injuries are tough, they just limit your movement a lot. If it limits my movement 10 years ago I’d still be able to play effectively out there. But if it limits my movement now, I’m already a step slow – that makes me three steps slow and it just makes so sense to be out there.’’
"Just seeing it day-by-day, pushing it a little more and seeing how it reacts. It’s frustrating for me…it never happened before in my career. "It’s tough, but once I’m out there I don’t want the same thing to happen again just like next week, so I want to make sure now that it’s good to go.’’ Nowitzki is 38 years old and in his 19th season, and has ramped up his rehabilitation day-to-day, including some treadmill work and additional small work on the court. "Sometimes it’s tough because I know the one thing I can still semi-do is score the ball and spread the floor,’’ Nowitzki said. "At this stage of my career I don’t move well any ways, so if I’m out there at 80-90 percent I don’t think I’m a big help. So I want to make sure my body responds the right way and we’ll go from there.’’
He hopes to complete the two-year, $50 million contract he signed over the summer, which would allow him to join Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in the 20-seasons-with-one-team club, but Nowitzki has always said he will listen to his body and hang up his Nikes when basketball is no longer fun. Right now, the 38-year-old Nowitzki is mired in basketball misery. His Mavs (3-14) have the NBA's worst record, and Nowitzki can do nothing to help, as he is sidelined for at least the rest of the week. "It's hard to listen to him," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. "The dude bitches like a m-----f-----."
"Guys are learning to play in an environment that is very realistic, as opposed to the nirvana that he's provided here for close to two decades," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "The one thing that I think this period should point out to historians of the game is his level of greatness. It's just another strong indication of how great he has been [and] is and the kind of impact he has. When he's out there on a consistent basis, it's a game-changer." There is plenty of proof of that. Start with the Mavs' 15 playoff appearances, 12 50-win seasons, two Finals trips and one title during a stretch in which Nowitzki had more than twice as many All-Star selections as all his teammates put together. Nowitzki, the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history, ranks seventh in win shares, one spot behind Duncan.
“Did you see what I paid him this year?” Cuban said. “He got maxed out except for one contract and then he opted out of that contract and more than made up for it. He is the franchise. Any money I didn’t give to him, I put in my pocket so I was fine with giving it to him.” I asked Cuban if there was any doubt in his mind whether Nowitzki would ultimately retire in a Mavericks uniform? “No,” Cuban replied. “I don’t see why it would be any other way. He’s had plenty of opportunities to leave and he’s chosen not to.”
Dirk Nowitzki on his future:: “My goal is to fulfil my contract. In the summer I signed for two more years. But I also have to check on my health. No one knows where I will go later, but I think that I’ll always have a home here in Dallas. I have been here for 20 years now, my wife for ten. If I want to, I would get a job at the Mavericks so I think we might stay here after the end of my career.”
Dirk Nowitzki on a possible career as Head Coach: “Becoming a Head Coach was never my goal. A Head Coach not only needs to have basketball knowledge, he has to evaluate characters, has to mix them, to motivate – even yell at someone once in a while. That is not part of my personality. I am not the person to stand somewhere and hold a 20 minute speech. I think player development is more my ideal role; I sure learned a lot from Holger Geschwindner about that in the last 20 years. But Head Coach? No way.”
Go out like Kobe or go out like Duncan? Dirk Nowitzki: You know, I loved the way Kobe went out ... with a 60-point game? That's so Kobe like. The whole arena was standing up the whole fourth quarter. So much fun to watch. But I'm more like a Duncan guy. More a quiet guy. I don't need the limelight as much. Maybe not quite the just e-mail, Hey, by the way Tim Duncan is retiring. I thought that was a little low profile. Maybe there's a little press conference or something. I don't know, I don't really want to think about it because I know it's gonna come up soon anyway. I'm just gonna enjoy the last couple of years.
Tim MacMahon: Dirk Nowitzki on how much longer he plans to play: "We'll see how next year goes, how the body responds and then we'll make that decision next year. But obviously, I would love to play the next two years and then just see how it goes." The two-year, $50 million deal Nowitzki signed with the Mavs this summer includes only $5 million guaranteed in the second season.
"Dirk gets to do what Dirk wants to do, period, end of story," Cuban said at a reading appearance at the Dallas Public Library's Audelia Road branch. "I told him that the other day. If Dirk wants to be the head coach, we'll move Rick (Carlisle) over a little bit. Dirk's done so much for this franchise, he's earned that opportunity. "Dirk just wants to win. Dirk can play until he's 50. It's not like he can get any slower."
He added: “If [Nowitzki] takes care of his body, I think he’s got a couple of more good years in him. And who knows, he might be one of those guys that actually hits 40. But those are decisions that he makes, in terms of what the goal is, and the goal will always be winning with Dirk. No matter what, he’s all about winning, so we’re hopeful that it’s here in Dallas.” Looking to ink Nowitzki to a longer deal this summer, the Mavericks will try to maximize the future Hall of Famer’s final seasons by remaining competitive in the West. But after seeing the emergence of rookie Justin Anderson and second-year standout Dwight Powell this season, the Mavs will also try to surround Nowitzki with a younger supporting cast that’s capable of growing together over the years.
The 37-year-old Nowitzki said he does hope to play at least two more seasons, which would take him to 20 in his legendary career. Currently sitting just more than 500 points away from 30,000 for his career, the German will become just the sixth player in NBA history to reach that milestone. Obviously individual accolades don’t matter to Nowitzki as much as they might to his fans, as the 2011 Finals MVP would rather compete for a second championship in his final seasons in the league.
Dirk Nowitzki: "I signed on for three years a couple years ago. My intention was always to finish this contract. I always said I wanted to retire [with] the Mavs, especially after we won the championship a few years ago. There's no reason to go anywhere unless the Mavs are rebuilding. I always said that the last couple of years, I'd never want to be a part of rebuilding. Next season, I'll be 38. As long as we go for it and every summer we add guys and keep competing, then I'll be a Mav for the rest of my career."
But the Mavs star said a farewell tour is not something he is interested in. "I don't want to go into a season knowing this is my last," Nowitzki said. "I'm going to go from summer to summer and re-evaluate how the body feels after the season. So I don't think I'm going to have this whole tour where everybody knows I'm going to retire. I'm just going to play as long as I can...It's going to be, hopefully, a few more years down the road, and then, like I said, when I'm gone, I'm gone."
In an interview Sunday with ESPN Radio, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki acknowledged that he has given thought to playing beyond the final remaining season on his contract. Although he stressed that he wouldn't make a firm decision until after completing the 2016-17 campaign, Nowitzki said on ESPN Radio's "NBA Insiders" show that playing an even "20 years would sound really, really great."
Currently in his 18th season, Nowitzki said, "My goal was when I signed this three-year deal to fulfill that contract. And so if I play next year through, by that point I'll be 39. To be honest, 20 years [in the NBA] would sound really, really great. And next year would obviously be my 19th year, so maybe after this next year I could sign on one more. But I'll just have to wait and see, I think, at this point."
"Stats is never really something I played for," Nowitzki said. "I think if it's no fun anymore to get up in the morning and go to practice, then I better call it a day. I started playing because it's a fun sport to me and I'm gonna quit while it's fun. I'm not going to play another year saying I have to get into the top five [in scoring]. That's never how my mind worked." "... But like I said, as long as I get up in the morning, it's still fun [and] I don't have to take a bunch of meds to play, I'll probably play one more."
Mark Cuban on… whether Dirk would really hate a farewell tour: “Bullshit! Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit! Yeah, he loves that little wave when he comes out and passes a milestone. He loves it. LOOOVES IT! I don’t care what he says. ‘I don’t like going to the All-Star Games. I don’t want a farewell tour.’ He loves it! I remember his first All-Star Game, we literally told him he had to pack a knapsack, just in case we roadtrip from Philadelphia to Miami, and he packed one. Me, him and Nash…Oh my God…the shit we did. Can’t believe it’s been, what, 16 years.”
Unlike Bryant, Nowitzki has no interest in a farewell tour. “I don’t want people to high-five me everywhere I go or make this a big deal about me,” he said. “What [Derek] Jeter did or what the closer, Mariano Rivera, did—every ballpark you get some gifts, you know, sausages in Milwaukee?” Nowitzki shook his head, shifting onto one elbow. “No chance I’d ever do that. I’m not the guy who will say, ‘This is my last year.’?” He paused. “When I’m gone, I’m gone.”
He is 2,810 points away from passing Wilt Chamberlain for fifth on the all-time list, a possibility if Nowitzki opts to play at least one more season after this contract expires. "I mean, 30,000 would be unbelievable, but that's not something that I would strap it on and say I've got to have one more year to get to 30,000," Nowitzki recently told ESPN.com. "I think when it's enough, it's enough, when the body can't do it anymore and it's not fun anymore. The goal of 30,000 or top five is not what motivates me to do another year. "It's gotta come natural, gotta be fun. I always said, I started this game for fun, and I've got to end it that way. When it's time, it's time."
Nowitzki just passed Dominique Wilkins for 13th place all time in field goals and is seventh in scoring with more than 28,000 points. He has established himself as the best overseas player of all time, having won an MVP award and leading the Mavericks to the 2010-11 NBA title. “I try to enjoy the last couple of years,” he said. “Obviously I know it’s coming to an end, but I just want to give it all I can to the game while I still can.
Even still, it’s quite clear that he’s not done in the NBA just yet. Nowitzki, who made such a significant sacrifice by signing a three-year, $25 million deal in the summer of 2014 so that the Mavericks could contend again, said he’s still unsure when he might retire. "I always said that when the body is hurting every day, and when you’ve got to do all this extra stuff to just play, I think that’s when it’s time to go," said Nowitzki, a 13-time All-Star and one-time MVP, Finals MVP and champion. "But I feel good. I feel good right now and I felt good this summer. I mean, we had a five-games-in-six-days for the (Eurobasket), and I got through that just fine. ... I felt good. I don’t need to pop a thousand pills to play or practice. So as long as that’s still good, and it’s still fun to go. I’m going to definitely ride this contract out (this season and next). I don’t know. We’ll see what happens after that."
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently went on 96.7 The Ticket KTCK-FM to discuss his team before the season begins. Here are some highlights. On how long he sees Dirk Nowitzki playing: "I think he wants to play as long as he can, first of all. He's never been super athletic. He's never been a high-flyer. So his ability to be on that elbow and hit that jumper or to step into a three coming down the court, he's going to be able to do that. I think it really depends on the pace of the game. If there are guys he can guard or there are defenses that we can put together that can allow him to defend, that'll be the key.
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September 28, 2021 | 5:08 am EDT Update