So while the top-seeded Mavericks were getting shocked by Golden State in the first round of last spring's playoffs, the public never knew that Nowitzki's father, J?rg, was undergoing surgery in Dallas.
Six months later, with the Mavericks commencing the 2007-08 season tonight at Cleveland, Nowitzki didn't mention his father's surgery during a lengthy sit-down interview for this story. The topic surfaced during subsequent interviews with his family and friends.
"It was not easy for him to deal with the pressure of the playoffs and my dad's surgery at the same time," Dirk's sister Silke e-mailed from the family's hometown of Würzburg, Germany. "But Dirk is good at being able to focus on his game when he is on the court."
Silke said her parents prefer not to disclose specifics about the surgery, but she did say J?rg, 64, "is doing a lot better now" back in Würzburg. "He changed his lifestyle and even stopped smoking after 50 years."
So why didn't he mention his father's surgery last spring? Last week, The News arranged for a follow-up interview to ask him.
Nowitzki's affability disappeared. Clearly, he was disappointed.
"Let's not even write about it," he said.
It was pointed out that a couple of people in his inner circle had already discussed it, saying that Dirk had arranged to have J?rg brought here to get the best care.
Silke said she believes the surgery occurred on April 30, which would have been between Games 4 and 5 of the Golden State series.
But Dirk said his parents attended the 118-112 Game 5 win in Dallas, when he scored 12 points during a 15-0 run to close the game. All he would say about the surgery was that it occurred while the team was in Oakland for the series-ending Game 6, with Dirk phoning back for updates. And that the organization was well aware of the situation.
"We all go through stuff in our lives," he said. "But obviously people pay a lot of money to see us play that night. They don't care what's going on in your life. They want to see you perform. We understand that.
"That's why personal stuff is private and once you step on the court, it's secondary and we've got to learn how to play through stuff."
Had he or someone in his inner circle said something last spring, might the media and fan criticism of him been less harsh?
"That's all right," he said. "I've got big shoulders."
I know it's fashionable to bash Dirk these days. And I know someone is going to say look what Jordan did with the situation with his father. But we know Dirk is no Jordan. And he still underperformed in the playoffs. But I like the fact that he didn't want to mention this. And does not want to use it as an excuse. Think what you will of him. But he's still a very good player and someone just about everyone would want on their team.
i read that article too, sorry to hear that about his father. Can understand that he didn't want that in the media. Its private stuff and he tries to keep it that way. And that he didn't want that to use as apology for his performance against the Warriors is understandable.