Rick Carlisle: “Dirk Nowitzki Is The Best Basketball Player On This Planet”


The Dallas Mavericks proved a lot of people wrong again. The Mavs took their talents to South Beach and left the other night with the NBA Championship. They were tougher, they played smarter, they played with more poise, and throughout the entire series they had big shots in critical moments when the game was hanging in the balance. Bottom line is that Dallas was the better team and they earned the NBA Championship.

Rick Carlisle deserves a ton of credit as well for his role in Dallas winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Carlisle pushed all the right buttons, he made all the right adjustments, he went to zone to kill the offensive flow of Miami, he called great plays late to close out games, and he was willing to change his starting lineup midway through the series and won three straight games following his decision to put JJ Barea in the starting lineup. There is no question that the players for the Mavericks deserve a ton of credit, but it was a team win for the Mavs and that includes Rick Carlisle’s decisions on the sidelines.  He outcoached Nate McMillan, Phil Jackson, Scott Brooks, and Erik Spoelstra en route to the Mavs first NBA Title.

Rick Carlisle joined ESPN Radio Dallas with Galloway and Company to talk about winning and NBA Championship, how he feels about the fan turnout, what has changed since Dallas won an NBA Championship, whether or not he thinks the media coverage helped his team at all, if he had an issue with most of the coverage being about Miami, why his team was so good in the fourth quarters of games, and if he had an issue with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade mocking Dirk Nowitzki.

How he feels about the fan turnout:

“It’s great to see everybody here. This is a great moment for all of us, a lot of hard work went into it, and this sounds like the contingent that we had from Dallas in the arena last night. Our fans were louder than the Miami Heat fans for much of that game and that really helped us.”

What has changed since they won the NBA Championship:

“For me the most drastic change was there was kind of this calm for two months and then all of the sudden Mark Cuban was everywhere again. He was in the interview room and he was on TV. I was so happy for him. Him and I had an embrace as the horn went off and I just told him how thrilled I was for him and for all the people, there have been people that have worked for this franchise for 30 years that have waited and waited and labored and tried to sell tickets during cold periods of seven, eight, or nine years. Donnie Nelson and Nellie, they find a way to come up with Dirk Nowitzki and then things started getting better. Then it’s (Steve) Nash and (Michael) Finley and all those guys. Then there’s  and the disappointment of that. The five years between then and now have been up and down and there’s been inconsistency, but this year was defined by a team that really was focused, the acquisition of (Tyson) Chandler made all the difference in the world to us on so many different levels. The season, the success really came down to two things: Resourcefulness and being opportunistic. This was not the most talented team in the playoffs by any stretch, but it was the smartest team, the most together team, the most committed team, and it was a team that was extremely tough. As we’re the only ones left in I can tell you right now two things. We are the toughest team on the planet. The second thing that I know for sure at this moment, Dirk Nowitzki is the best basketball player on this planet.”

Whether or not he thinks the media coverage and things people were saying helped fuel his team:

“I don’t know that those things drove the team as much as there was another groundswell. There was sentiment that was coming to me and our players from all parts of the basketball world and people were really pulling for us because I think there’s something that people have an aversion to a turnkey championship, that you can put together a team of three megastars that quickly and boom basically be right there. Right or wrong there was so much support for us and our guys felt it and I really believe they just felt it was so important for them to win the series for that reason and also because of the things that have happened in the past and wanting to exercise all the demons. They did that.”

Whether or not it upset him that most of the national media coverage was about what Miami didn’t do:

“I don’t care about the national media at all. I had to deal with them three times a day during the Finals. I understand the job that they have to do and I understand the difficulties of coming up with the stories. When you have a situation like Miami when they come together in that way, even though it’s a relatively short period of time, there’s a lot of history and they find things to write about and dig up questions. A lot of questions are about what they’re not doing and I really felt like it was more about what we were doing.”

On why the Mavericks were so good in fourth quarters:

“I believe because of our experience and I also believe because our guys have sort of an innate ability to put pressure on the opponent. We do it because our focus and concentration in fourth quarters is excellent. Dirk and Jet (Jason Terry) are in the top three combo in the league I think over the last four or five years in combined point production in the fourth quarter. So they are guys that are going to flat out get it done by either scoring the ball or making plays. There was just something special about this run. It was our time and they were not going to be denied.”

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