Nowitzki stuck on Dallas
DALLAS, Texas (AP):
Dirk Nowitzki made peace years ago with the reality that spending his entire career with the Dallas Mavericks would likely mean little or no chance to win a second championship.
The most accomplished European player in NBA history never seriously considered leaving the franchise that courted him as a teenager in Germany and drafted him five days after his 20th birthday in 1998.
Now in his 20th season, Nowitzki is comfortable with the idea that he led the Mavericks to their first title and can try to help a younger core build toward making Dallas a title contender again.
"I just think I pride myself with this city, with this organisation, whatever this city or this franchise goes through, I want to push it through," Nowitzki said. "I want to be there for it. If it's rebuilding, I want to push it through and help as much as I can. If we're playing for a championship, then I'll do that."
The Mavericks haven't won a playoff series since beating Miami in the Finals in 2011, LeBron James' first season with the Heat. They had a woeful start for the second straight year, all but assuring that they will miss the playoffs with consecutive losing seasons for the first time since Nowitzki's first two.
The slide out of contention means little to the context of Nowitzki's career: a 7-footer who changed the game with his three-point shooting, the first foreign-born player to reach 30,000 points and the distinction with Kobe Bryant (Lakers) as the only players to spend 20 seasons with the same franchise.
"I think the reality is that when you see this kind of consistency of greatness, there's a tendency to take it for granted," said Rick Carlisle, in his 10th season as Nowitzki's coach. "And we must be careful about taking this for granted. We're seeing a generational player that's changed the game."
Nowitzki still starts Carlisle pretty much declared earlier this season that he will start as long as he's playing but often sits at the end of close games. He's probably the fourth scoring option, behind Harrison Barnes, Wesley Matthews and even rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr.
But the 39-year-old played the first 54 games, an important measure for him to feel he's contributing. Nowitzki, the only 7-footer to win the three-point contest that's part of All-Star weekend, is in position for the best shooting percentage of his career from beyond the arc. The number of attempts isn't far off from his prime either.