It’s not often that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban publicly criticizes superstar Dirk Nowitzki, so it raised a few eyebrows on Monday when Cuban said Dirk has been napping in games of late. Nowitzki was diplomatic in his response to the criticism. Per the Star-Telegram:
“I think sometimes he loses concentration, and I think we’ve got to get past that,” Cuban said. “I mentioned it to him today. I asked him how his nap was during the game [Sunday at Oklahoma City]. He laughed. At least that’s while I was facing him. When I turned my back and walked away, I don’t know.”
Nowitzki had two first-quarter rebounds against the Thunder and finished the game with just four boards and 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Cuban also was none too pleased that Nowitzki had just 12 points and six rebounds during last Tuesday’s 108-85 loss on the road to the Golden State Warriors.
“Dirk always goes through a little slump during the year where he needs to remotivate. And I think we’ve seen that for a couple of games, and I think he’s going to come back stronger, particularly after three days and those naps he’s gotten through the last couple of games.”
“Like ’08, ’09, when we lost to Oklahoma City when they sat everybody, I called out Dirk and the whole team,” Cuban said. “And I think the championship year, I called him out because I thought he let up when Caron [Butler] got hurt and then Dirk got hurt.”
“I don’t think it’s about getting involved early because you don’t need to be involved offensively to be there defensively,” Cuban said. “You know when Dirk’s trying to get 10 rebounds, and you know when he’s not.
“And we need a little bit more of those try-to-get-10 games because I think our starters in particular respond to his energy.”
“I’ve got to compete and help the guys set the tone,” Nowitzki said. “Some nights that’s defensively or on the rebounding, some nights it might be more scoring.
“I usually take pride in being a good all-around player. Especially in this homestand, if we want to make the playoffs we’ve all got to do a little more.”