Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki speaks out on years of competing against Heat guard Dwyane Wade
Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki spoke at length about his years-long rivalry with Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade after meeting in two NBA Finals and exchanging several matchups against one another in the regular season. Both Mavs and Heat legends are expected to retire after this season and were named honorary All-Star mentions in what could be their last year in the league.
The two soon-to-be Hall of Famers exchanged jerseys during Wade’s last trip to the America Airlines Center, following a 112-101 Heat win.
“It’s a long-time coming, you know, knowing that he’s been doing that, I’ll cherish his jersey, obviously, knowing the great competition we’ve had for a long, long time,” said Nowitzki, according to Tim Cato of The Athletic. “He’s a great, great player, one of the greatest guards we’ve had in our league. Like I said, there was some rough, rocky limes in our relationship after ‘o6. It went both ways.
There was some stuff said we both didn’t like, but at the end of the day, we’re both competitors. You don’t love most of your competition. But we’re in this together. We’re all family, and I’m happy for him. He had a heck of a career.”
Nowitzki reached his first NBA Finals in 2006 and lost after the Mavs blew a 2-0 lead, losing four straight to Wade and the Heat in what was perhaps the most painful loss of his career.
The 7-footer would get his revenge in 2011, when his Mavericks took down a colossal Big Three that included Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James, stripping them of a 2-1 lead to win three straight and win his only title.
“We’re old, now, we’re older. When you’re young, you compete. You’re stubborn,” said Nowitzki. “But there were a few guys where I was just not that friendly. We played against the Spurs in the playoffs and I didn’t love those guys, either. It comes with competing at the highest level, and it is what it is. But at the end of the day, we’re all in the same league, we’re all part of one big family. We compete against each other and bring out the best in each other.)”
Longevity, as usual, always has a way to bring things into perspective. Both players have found that to be true and will look back on this jersey swap year from now, glad to have that one last piece of memorabilia to close out some iconic moments in the league.