MEMPHIS — Because he’s been around Dirk Nowitzki for quite some time, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle isn’t surprised by what his superstar has been able to accomplish this season.But others around the NBA seem surprised that Nowitkzi has been able to maintain his status as one of the league’s premier players despite being 35 years old. “I can only tell you my thoughts on it,” Carlisle said Wednesday. “I’m not surprised, but I’ve had 5 1/2 years to see how he’s wired and see how he approaches things.”After a subpar season following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in October 2012, Nowitzki has bounced back in grand style.The 16-year veteran is averaging 21.9 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 48.7 percent from the field in only 32.4 minutes per game.Nowitzki’s performance helped him earn his 12th All-Star appearance this year. He also will be the oldest player in this year’s All-Star Game, set for Feb. 16 in New Orleans.The honor solidified Nowitzki’s status as one of the game’s greatest players. It also might silence some of Nowitzki’s critics who thought he was on the downside of his illustrious career.“If people are surprised, that’s fine,” Carlisle said. “But you’re talking about all-time great players and the kind of wiring that they have.“They’re wired to be great and that’s just how they do business.”Mavs owner Mark Cuban and former Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley will be forever linked.That’s probably why Cuban recently sent get-well emails to Heisley, 76, who had a stroke about this time last year and spent some time in a coma.Heisley and Cuban each received their NBA ownership papers on the same day at a ceremony in New York City about 14 years ago. They also have remained fast friends.“I sent an email to his wife so she could read it to him,” Cuban said. “He’s not doing too well.”Heisley started feeling ill at last year’s All-Star Game in Houston. He left the game early and flew to his home in Chicago, where he had the stroke.Prior to last season, Heisley sold the Grizzlies to Robert Pera.The Mavs had a scare in the first half when Nowitzki went down clutching his left shoulder with less than four minutes remaining before halftime.Nowitzki was making a move toward the basket when James Johnson came across and swiped at the ball, but made contact with the 16-year veteran’s shoulder.No foul, however, was called. And while Nowitzki was busy complaining and grabbing his shoulder, the Grizzlies went down and scored.Dallas called timeout, Nowitzki was checked out by the Mavs’ medical staff and he stayed in the game. After the game, Carlisle said he thought Nowitzki “just got a stinger.”The stinger obviously didn’t affect Nowitzki as he finished with a game-high 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting in the Mavs’ 110-96 victory.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice