It was the comment that made for sports radio gold back in February for talk hosts around the country. Charles Barkley, of course, had a strong opinion on Dirk Nowitzki. This was coming off a week where Dirk missed four games with a banged-up knee and was averaging fewer than 10 points per game in his three outings since returning to the court. Sir Charles felt No.41 was simply getting old, like the rest of the Mavericks.
Looking back at it now Barkley turned out to be right in some aspects. The Mavs struggled to remain consistent all season long coming off an NBA Championship, finishing as the seed in the Western Conference playoffs before being swept by the Oklahoma City Thunders two weeks ago. Nowitzki didn’t seem to be his normal self that carried the Mavs in prior seasons as it became increasingly evident that Dallas must go out in free agency and reload. It looks like that was the plan all along for Mark Cuban. Nowitzki is keeping his fingers crossed for Deron Williams. Dirk Nowitzki joined ESPN Dallas with Galloway & Company to discuss the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs going the distance, his pick to win the Western Conference Finals, Charles Barkley claiming that he was getting old and that his career was over, idolizing Charles Barkley as a child and the Mavs pursuit of Deron Williams.
Can the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs series go the distance?
“It’s going to be spectacular. Hopefully it’s going to be a long series and we can all watch some great basketball. The whole thing is full of great matchups. Just off the bench with Ginobili and (James) Harden going at it, the two point guards, obviously [Russell] Westbrook was phenomenal against us all series, but Parker is having a phenomenal year, probably in the prime of his career and Duncan is still looking really good this year. And now they got another week off to rest everybody. So, it’s going to be an incredible series to watch. I don’t know. It’s going to be tough to say who is coming out. I think you can make an argument for both. I still think I like San Antonio with their experience, but man OKC looked so good and Durant now really closing games. It’s wide open to me.”
Who’s going to the NBA Finals out of the Western Conference?
“I think San Antonio’s going to do it just because they’ve got one more home game. They really came on strong late in the season and they snatched home-court advantage away from OKC. So, I got to think just by that there is a little slight advantage. But honestly, both teams are good enough to win on the opponent’s floor so I would give a slight advantage to San Antonio, but, man, OKC is looking really good.”
We have Charles Barkley on once a month. Are you familiar with “father time bro?” Charles Barkley said father time was catching up with you and your career was on the downside?
“Father time bro? Of course. I’m undefeated. [Randy Galloway: When you heard him say ‘father time’ what did you think?] Well I just thought I had a tough time getting going this year. I don’t think I am very specific taking care of my body. During the season I eat right. I lift. I train. It took me awhile to get going with the whole lockout. There was too many games and not enough preparation time, so I paid for that a little bit, but I still think I can play some really good basketball. If you look at all of those guys they really take of their body like Steve Nash and Jason Kidd is almost 40. Those guys they can compete at a high level for a long time. Even if you are looking at Tim Duncan he is having a phenomenal year this year. It’s his 16th or 17th year. Whatever it is. I still think he can play at a really high level and I still think I can do it I am going to prepare again like in the regular season you have your routine. You come in and report in October and I am going to spend the offseason getting my body ready again and we’ll see what happens next year and see who’s fighting alongside me and who the warriors are and we will go from there.”
Do you still like Charles Barkley after his comments regarding your age?
“I will always say I was a huge Charles Barkley fan and he was the reason why I changed to the number 14. He wore number 14 in the Olympics in 1992, so I changed to number 14 in basketball growing up. Then it became 41, so I love Charles and also love watching him on TV. Whatever is running through his big head and he is going to throw out there? That is what makes it funny. I’m still a huge, huge fan. I didn’t see it as an insult and if anything he is just having his opinions and he’s throwing his out there. That would make great TV and great radio cause he’s the man.”
If the Mavs don’t get Deron Williams what will you think?
“Oh man it’s tough. We’ll just have to wait and see who we get. I think there are a lot of decisions coming in that we have to make and I think with getting coach [Rick Carlisle] out of the way was great and now we know who is coach for the next four years. I think he did a tremendous job, so that’s already one decision off the books and now we gotta see what’s out there I think it’s hard to comment on that now cause everything could change completely in July. All the free agents probably don’t know what they are doing yet. It’s kind of too early. We’d love to get some great players here and reload. I think Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban have always made that clear. It’s not good enough for us to play for six or seven seeds in the playoff and get swept in the first round. We always want to play at the top and want to have home court advantage in the first round. That’s something we always take pride in and we gotta bring some players in. We are losing a lot of guys from our team, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in July. We would love to get a prime time player like D-Will in, but that’s not an our thing right now. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens in July.”