DALLAS - We know Dirk Nowitzki is not your ordinary NBA star, and this is not because he's German. Thursday offered even more proof - this morning after the Mavs practice, he walked down the stairs from the team offices to greet the considerable media horde that was awaiting his presence.
Rather than just walk to the center of the pack and begin fielding questions, he flashed a giant smile and eagerly shook everyone's hand. Reporters. Bloggers. Columnists. Camerman. All of us.
"Good to see you guys. Want to say hi to everyone," Dirk said, looking decidedly less shaggy these days. He said he just got his hair cut.
This is a man who really is still enjoying the ride of winning his first NBA title. You can't help but be happy for this guy. But the reality is the grind is getting ready to start again, and unlike every other start to a regular season this will be the first time Dirk has to get motivated to want something he already owns.
In the first few days after winning the title in June, Dirk admitted that he has done everything he wanted in his career. He played in an Olympics for Germany. He's been in the NBA forever. He's been an All-Star. He's been All-NBA this and that. He's won a regular season MVP award. He's been a playoffs MVP. He's an NBA champion.
There is nothing else. I posed him this question this morning: How does a man who has it all get motivated again to do the exact same thing?
"I think at the beginning it was really tough, speaking getting back into it especially after the (European championships that he played in this summer)," Dirk TOLD ME. "To get back training again; I was missing some of the motivation that was driving me. Those two months away got me going again. Now you felt it once and you want to feel it again. You want to be the best team again and defend your title and put all of your efforts into that. That's what drives me again - be a great player and going out there and winning some games."
Dirk did a little lobbying for free agents J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler to return, but all signs point to Tyson leaving for stupid money. It sounds like Tyson is gone. After more than 10 years in the NBA, Dirk knows this is a business and that guys leave all the time.
Doesn't matter. Dirk's window for another title is open for another one to three years; the Mavs would be stupid not to take full advantage of doing whatever possible while they have this type of player, and person, in his prime.
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