Storyline: Dirk Nowitzki Injury

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Certifiable proof that Dirk Nowitzki is on the verge of making his season debut arrived Monday. Holger Geschwindner was at practice. That doesn’t necessarily mean we will get a Nowitzki sighting in uniform Tuesday against Portland in the opener of a challenging back-to-back set of games that ends in New Orleans Wednesday. But it can be taken as a good sign that Nowitzki, who had left ankle surgery in April and has been recovering since, is nudging ever-closer to starting his 21st season. Never mind that Nowitzki’s longtime mentor usually comes to Dallas from Germany four times a season and sometime around the holidays is pretty typical. His presence is always a good thing for Nowitzki.

Nowitzki pulls up in his SUV, having driven over instead. “No extra steps!” he shouts on his way in, having saved himself a walk of maybe 50 feet from door to door. Challenge his methods if you will, but there’s only so much one can say to a man who has played in 92% of his team’s games over 20 years. You don’t make it to 50,573 career minutes–third-most in NBA history–without good fortune and proactivity. Time, however, comes for even the most mindful athletes. “Ankle surgery was something we all felt was necessary after last year, where I couldn’t really move much,” Nowitzki says. “So it was either retiring or trying the surgery. We tried for the surgery.”

Nowitzki’s initial recovery was promising, and even allowed for him to play in pick-up games when the Mavs reconvened in September. Soon after, the tendons surrounding his surgically repaired ankle had inflamed to the point that Dallas all but shut Nowitzki down. “I guess this is normal,” he says. It’s a miracle that this process–of injury, surgery, and recovery–is still somewhat foreign to Nowitzki, two decades in. Dirk has seen everything there is to see in this sport, but until his last few seasons, he hadn’t seen all that much of it from the sidelines. “I hate being out,” Nowitzki says. “I’ve gotta say. I don’t love it. I’m not the coach guy that pulls guys over left and right and tells ’em something. It’s not really my personality.”
8 months ago via ESPN

As for when the 7-foot German’s record 21st season with the same franchise will begin after a longer-than-expected recovery from ankle surgery seven months ago, Nowitzki said the goal is sometime in December. The 13-time All-Star had surgery to remove bone spurs from his left ankle just before the end of the 2017-18 season. Nowitzki was on schedule to be ready for the start of this season before a setback led to tendon soreness just before the start of training camp in September.

“It’s a matter of going full bore and then feeling good afterwards,” Carlisle said. “I would have to think that once we got him feeling significantly better, there wouldn’t have to be a lot of full, live workouts to get him into games. But we’re down the road a little more age-wise, so things aren’t necessarily what they were last year, the year before or whatever. “He’s making gradual progress. We need to have him make some real significant progress, get him on the court and then we can talk about it.”

Nowitzki only recently stepped on the basketball court for a scrimmage with his teammates. His repaired left foot came out of those five-on-five games with lukewarm results. “The ankle where I had the surgery is actually great,” he said. “There were two bone spurs that kind of blocked me from doing things. So they took those out and now there’s a lot more movement in the ankle. But all the tendons aren’t used to moving that much now. Every now and then, it’s a little stiff. I scrimmaged a little last week and on Monday and it hasn’t really reacted amazing to it. But we’re positive that it’ll be fine. By the time we get into camp and especially the regular season, I’ll be 100 percent.”

“I saw the doc (Friday) morning,” Nowitzki said. “Everything is on schedule. This week was a little bit of a downer. There was a little more swelling again, so we took it a little easier. The doc said it’s completely normal. “There will be days when it’s great but there obviously was an invasion in there and they had to go in and drill a little bit. He said there will be good days and bad days. So if it reacts a little more, do a little less. But the good thing is I don’t have to get ready for a season right now. By the first of August, I’ll be running and doing everything so I can be ready by September. I have plenty of time to get it right. We don’t have to force anything.”

There is no timetable for Nowitzki’s return, although he fully expects to be healthy and in training camp when it starts in September. However, Nowitzki sounded like an impatient kid on Christmas morning who knows he has to exercise some patience. “It could take really all summer,” Nowitzki said, when asked about the length of his rehab. “I’m obviously not pushing it now. There’s no reason to push it now. We have plenty of time until training camp, which is early in September. We just don’t want to make it worst at this point, so I’m taking it nice and slow.”

“It’s been over two weeks now (since the surgery) and I’m moving around without (the walking boot) already pretty good at home,” Nowitzki said. “But once you step out (of the house), I’ll still wear the boot. “It’s progressing good, but it’ll be awhile until I can run and do basketball activities. I already started rehabbing a little bit and riding the bike and lifting a little bit and doing some movement stuff. It’s going to be, unfortunately, a piece of work all summer, but hopefully it’s going to help me next season.”
3 years ago via ESPN

“The thing is, I think when I came back it was a little too early and I had a little setback,” said Nowitzki, who sat out eight consecutive games before playing in losses to the LA Clippers and Cavaliers and getting shut down again. “Everybody’s a little worried about starting it back up too early and then starting back where we were, so we’re taking it slow now. But it’s been getting better. I’ve been increasing the workload, and it hasn’t been sore. “Hopefully, I’ll be back in action anytime soon. Maybe I’m a Christmas gift.”
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July 15, 2019 | 8:19 pm EDT Update