It’s not often that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban publicly criticizes his superstar forward, Dirk Nowitzki.
Monday, though, was one of those rare occasions.
Cuban took time before Monday’s game against the Boston Celtics to tell the media of a conversation he had with Nowitzki earlier in the day. It’s about as critical as Cuban has ever publicly been about Nowitzki.
“I think sometimes he loses concentration, and I think we’ve got to get past that,” Cuban said. “I mentioned it to him today. I asked him how his nap was during the game [Sunday at Oklahoma City]. He laughed. At least that’s while I was facing him. When I turned my back and walked away, I don’t know.”
Nowitzki had two first-quarter rebounds against the Thunder and finished the game with just four boards and 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Cuban also was none too pleased that Nowitzki had just 12 points and six rebounds during last Tuesday’s 108-85 loss on the road to the Golden State Warriors.
Asked why he was publicly challenging Nowitzki, Cuban said: “That’s only because I did it already personally.”
“Dirk always goes through a little slump during the year where he needs to remotivate. And I think we’ve seen that for a couple of games, and I think he’s going to come back stronger, particularly after three days and those naps he’s gotten through the last couple of games.”
Cuban said he’s called out Nowitzki before.
“Like ’08, ’09, when we lost to Oklahoma City when they sat everybody, I called out Dirk and the whole team,” Cuban said. “And I think the championship year, I called him out because I thought he let up when Caron [Butler] got hurt and then Dirk got hurt.”
Cuban said he has a rule when it comes to publicly trying to get Nowitzki in check.
“I’m allowed to call him out once every 10 years,” Cuban said.
Cuban’s qualms with Nowitzki have nothing to do with the 16-year veteran being able to set an early tone offensively by getting the ball more.
“I don’t think it’s about getting involved early because you don’t need to be involved offensively to be there defensively,” Cuban said. “You know when Dirk’s trying to get 10 rebounds, and you know when he’s not.
“And we need a little bit more of those try-to-get-10 games because I think our starters in particular respond to his energy.”
Christmas in March
Coach Rick Carlisle compared his team’s eight-game homestand to the Christmas season, adding that his players need to keep from being distracted by outside forces.
“This is a very challenging situation because every relative, friend and entourage member — they look at the schedule and say, ‘Oh, you guys got eight games in a row, I’m coming into town,’ ” Carlisle said before Monday’s game against Boston. “It’s a little like the Christmas holidays. This period has got to be approached the right way because, if not, we can get distracted by external things.”