“This is where my heart was,’’ Dirk Nowitzki said at the Mavs Media Day on Monday. “It wouldn’t have felt right to put another uniform on.”
Monday marked the beginning of a new season. But the story of the day, really, was catching up with The UberMan to first get his thoughts on his summer … and then, because he is the leader here, to get his thoughts on his team and his teammates.
A State Of The Dirk Address, you might call it..
So, what has the man Jason Kidd labeled as “the franchise” been up to all summer?
“For the first time, I didn’t touch the ball for a good three-and-a-half months. So, that’s obviously the longest ever not touching the ball.” Nowitzki said before stating that he got back to practicing in mid-August and undertook other activities, such as tennis, to keep in shape.
From a summer spent away from the game, to the grown-out hair (“the surfer dude look,’’ said Caron Butler), much of what we saw and heard from Dirk came as an echo of the player who arrived back in town one year ago and delivered Dallas yet another MVP-level year.
As for this season and themes beyond “How’s Dirk?’’ you couldn’t wander far around Media Day without a mention or reminder of this team’s depth. You could hear it in the questions posed, in the answers given and in the names meandering their way through the Mavs practice gym.
In a single glimpse you could catch guys like Dominique Jones, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry … all players likely to spend at least some time playing from the bench. There’s little doubt this team has depth.
Or. As coach Rick Carlisle put it, “four or five asskickers coming off the bench.”
Yet, with depth comes a strain on the availability of minutes.
How players are able to adjust to what is asked of them will have its say in where these Mavs find their road drawing to an end. When Dirk approached the topic, he was clear.
Nowitzki: “You can’t have hurt feelings on a good team. I mean, we’re beyond that. If you want to win a championship, you can’t be running around being mad all the time at Coach or at the situation. I think we’re all in this together.’’
The UberMan was asked to analyze some of this year’s potential step-up players.
On Roddy Beaunbois: “The future’s in Roddy’s hands. I think, hopefully he can improve the way we all want him to because he kind of brings that … that kind of level to our game. He’s explosive off the dribble, on the shot … No one really knows what he’s going to do next. So, I think he might bring something to the team that we need.”
On Dominique Jones: ““He’s strong. He can go in there and finish with the best of them.”
On Tyson Chandler: “He plays hard at both ends of the floor.’’
With such depth, where does Dirk think the Mavs stand in comparison to teams like the Lakers?
“They’re back –to-back champs,’’ he said. “Everything starts with them, and I think after that there’s a big pile a lot of teams are in. We’re right there with Oklahoma City and a bunch of other teams.”
And if the Mavs are again “right there,’’ the big reason will be because Dirk Nowitzki stayed right here.