Dirk Nowitzki Interview
In Game 6 of the 2006 NBA Playoffs the Dallas Mavericks beat the Phoenix Suns to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in Mavs history. Here's what Dirk Nowitzki said in the post-game press conference:
Q. Dirk, can you talk about the resiliency of this team throughout this series, especially?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Yeah, I thought we battled back always. It's about sticking together when you're down and when you're up. And I think we went through tough times all season long. We had some ups and some downs.
And the important thing is we have to stick together as a team. There would be some mistakes out there but you have to believe in each other. You have to believe in the coach and the system, and I think ultimately that's what we did. You know, I think most importantly today was we made that push right before the half. We cut it down to 12 or 10. I think that's something that's doable against Phoenix, especially with their style of basketball. All it takes is a couple of minutes to cut that down. I thought defensively we were awesome in the second half. We were rotating for each other. We were helping each other. We were contesting shots, rebounding well, and I mean that's the kind of defense we play under Avery, and it won us the game in the second half.
Q. After eight years with this franchise and all you've been through, can you just talk about your emotions and what you're thinking, getting to this point?
DIRK NOWITZKI: I mean, it's kind of hard. So much stuff is going through your mind. But obviously I'm proud of what we've accomplished so far. Obviously now you're in the Finals, you want to get the ring, and you want to fight for it. But obviously we're proud of the organization. I've had a great eight years so far. And I think we worked and worked continuously with Mark and all the players we got in and out. But we stuck with it, and kept fighting, and, you know, this is what we worked for for a long time. And, you know, I've been in the Western Conference before a couple years before. It's obviously a little sad when you play to June and get knocked out. So I'm just so happy to go to the Finals.
Q. The Mavericks franchise has really turned around over the last decade.
DIRK NOWITZKI: Yeah, I mean, when we first got here, it was rough. I mean, we were in that old arena. It stunk. It was bad. So I think we fought through a lot of stuff. But it was great, obviously, with Steve coming in and Mike Finley were there and we kind of build that triangle for a while, which was great. Obviously they're great friends and it hurt losing them, and I wish, obviously, both would still be here to enjoy this moment with me.
But, you know, we made different decisions as an organization, and we moved on.
And I'm obviously I'm so proud of what they do for their teams. But it's been fun the whole ride so far, this eight years. When I first got to Dallas, like I said, nobody really knew us and you could go out anywhere. Nobody was paying attention to the Mavericks really and then Mark took over and we got better and better and we got to be a playoff team. And it's been a fun ride. So hopefully we can take it to the next level and bring this franchise a ring.
Q. Can you talk about the second half, not only for you but also for Jason Terry, considering how much he struggled in the first?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Yeah, I thought Jason, you know, struggled the whole series. Every single game so far he got early fouls. One or two, three quick fouls. He never really got to find his rhythm early. And we all know as shooters and players, and play makers, you want to be able to find your rhythm early in the game. So I think that was a little disappointing for him that he always had to sit down early and kind of watch and then it's kind of tough to come back in the second half. But he stuck with it. I thought this whole series he kept battling back in the second halves. I couldn't get anything going early in the second half. I just thought I had to drive a little bit. I got two and-ones and that obviously always helps open up the basket for the jump shot.
Man, great team effort. I mean, really defensively and offensively we swung the ball. We had how many four guys in double figures and everybody was playing well.
Q. Dirk, I asked Avery this. When Nelly was a coach he was more of a running gun, high-powered offense. You guys can still score, but now is the transition to more defense focus, is that complete now?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, that's something that Avery kind of puts, put a premium on. I thought last year, right before the playoffs, that transition came a little quick, you know, with everything with Nelly getting out and Avery trying to put his system in with a couple of games left in the season, then right before the playoffs. And I thought we all struggled a little bit with the transition and it showed in the playoffs. We didn't play our best basketball there, and it was a little disappointing and this year with Avery being there, I think the whole training camp, he made it clear from the beginning what our system was defensively, how we want to work hard defensively, and I thought, you know, we went through some tough times this season. Nothing seemed to go right. We lost a couple of games in a row. But, you know, we kept believing in Avery and the system and ultimately defense is what wins in the playoffs.
And, you know, in the regular season you can score 100, and 110, and win a game in the playoffs. I think we played some good defense down the stretch and that won the game.
Q. Your thoughts on Miami and the challenges facing Shaq and Wade?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Obviously we watched them, watched them a lot, you know, Shaq and obviously Dwyane are playing at their level, obviously great. But I think their role players are playing incredible. Walker making shots, Payton, Jason Williams, all those guys, Posey coming in playing great, defensive hassling them and making shots when they're open and really executing their offense.
So we're going to have our hands full, but, you know, we're going to enjoy this one tonight, tomorrow, have a little day off. And get focused on Monday on what's ahead. But obviously it's going to be a heck of a final series. And you know obviously it's great we have home court. We we worked hard for it all season long. And we'll be ready on Thursday night.