I am graced with a one-on-one moment with Dirk Nowitzki. And while I have in my pocket the knowledge that he thinks this year’s Mavs are better than last year’s edition, that he thinks he’s “at the top of his game’’ and that he can stay there for another three or four years, and that he thinks about winning a championship and wants to strive for that until it’s “torture,’’ I am obliged to ask him about one more thing.
I am obliged to ask the Dallas Mavs’ superstar to help me translate a German saying that in English means “a grip down the toilet.’’
I’ll let The UberMan explain ... in “potty-mouthed’’ style.
“What is ‘Ein Griff ins Klo’?’ says Dirk, repeating my question back to me, and then bursting into laughter. “ ‘Griff’ is ‘grip.’ ‘Klo’ is ‘the bathroom.’ Like, ‘a toilet.’ And ‘ein Griff ins Klo’ basically means that you reached your hand into the toilet … it means you really screwed up.’’
Now, to why I am asked to pose the question on the eve of Dirk’s visit to LA, where the Mavs take on the world-champion Lakers tonight. …
This is all about Dirk thinking Dallas’ Game 1 loss was “a grip down the toilet.’’ Dirk conducted a visit with a homeland media outlet and, basically, I needed him to help me with a bit of the translation.
So here goes, from the German :
A four month break from basketball, a rested Dirk Nowitzki is going into the long NBA season. But after the defeat against Washington and before the game against the defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, once again the Mavs are threatened with a false start. Nowitzki talks about the dream to win the title, the lost pounds, and the future in the NBA.
After the defeat against Washington – do the Mavericks again need, like last year, a long time to get going and get in shape?
DIRK: “I did not think so. We have trained very well in training camp, made good preparation for games. Therefore, yesterday's defeat was a surprise for me. I expected the victory a bit - mainly because we have a very difficult start program. We needed that victory, so I was very disappointed after the game.’’
Also last season, the Mavericks were stumbling into the season.
DIRK: “We already said that we want to start better this year, partly because we have so many new people here. It is better to have a good start and everybody is confident. That was already a grip down the toilet against Washington.’’
When will the injured players Josh Howard and Tim Thomas return?
DIRK: “Josh has been involved in the workout a few times. I hope he comes back soon. He is very important for our team just like last year. You could see it against Washington. We did not get enough going offensively - Josh can create his own shot and can go to the free-throw line. Tim Thomas was in his whole career, one of the top 3-point shooters. We miss the two - but I think the moment has the entire league with injury problems. I just hope that Josh can play an injury-free season not like last year, where he would attend in three or four games and then get injured again.
After the reinforcements this year the Mavs seem to be in a similar situation like five or six years ago. At that time there were problems, because many players were there for the same positions and there where complains about the playing time. Will this be a problem this year?
DIRK: “This year we have an older, more experienced team. If we want to be successful, then everyone must take back his ego and subordinate to the team. As a professional you have to present yourself in practice to the coach. And in a long season of 82 games everybody has the chance to get used accurately. I really see no problem, the chemistry is very good and the new players so far fit in. We have a lot of fun in the locker. I think this team is better than last year.’’
Over the summer you lost weight. Does that also mean that you change your game again, playing away from the basket, as it was the case in the beginning of your career?
DIRK: “I wanted to be lighter because it is healthier for the bones practicing after four months of rest - and we have had very long practices in October, twice a day. I did not want to get hurt. Basically, I would like to play like last year: mixing it up from every position. Against Washington, I have once again shot a couple of 3’s, which did not happened in the preparation, although I should have gone more to the line. But the situation will change from game to game - my game will not change at all.’’
You are 31 now. Have you ever thought about when your NBA career will come to an end?
DIRK: “I weigh less, and feel physically very good. I feel at the moment I am still on top of my game. But if you are over 30, you have to think about what you want to do after your career. I think I will remain in basketball, because this sport gave me so much. In what position and where I'm going to live, that is still open. I think that I can play at a high level three or four more years. Let's see whether I have achieved my dream winning the championship. But if everything becomes a torture, I'd rather quit sooner.’’
And there you have it. Here’s hoping for a minimum of “torture’’ ... and for Dirk and the Mavs to keep their grips out of the toilet.