As Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki gets closer to the 30,000-point barrier, stories keep popping up about the veteran’s 19-year career.
Of course, owner Mark Cuban has more than his share of adventures with his franchise player. Probably none were better than a story Cuban said happened when he first met Nowitzki – and Steve Nash – at the old Stark Club in the West End part of downtown Dallas in January of 2000.
“The night before I announced I bought the team, he and Nash were there and I went up and tried to buy him a beer, and I was dressed like a freak show,” Cuban said prior to Friday’s game against Memphis. “I was walking around with a bottle of champagne and I was like, ‘Can I buy you a beer, I think I’m going to be seeing you tomorrow.’ ”
“[Nowitzki] said, ‘No, that’s OK.’ Nash rolled his eyes and they walked away. Then they saw me the next day and everybody was like, ‘Who the [expletive] is this guy?’ ”
Another time, when the Mavs were practicing at the Landry Center at Baylor Medical Center, Cuban got into one of his famous shootouts with Nowitzki. The results didn’t sit well with Don Nelson, who was coaching the Mavs at the time.
“There was another time we were in Baylor and we were shooting, and I just got hot and so we were trading threes,” Cuban said. “And Nellie starts yelling at him, ‘You’re not beating this guy?’ ”
Nowitzki is about to become the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 30,000 points in a career. He entered the game against Memphis with 29,952 career points.
The five ahead of him on that list are all Hall of Famers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419).
Cuban said the Mavs will stop the game and have a brief ceremony when Nowitzki reaches the 30,000-point milestone, presumably at some point on this five-game homestand.
It’s one thing to get booed on the road, as former Mavs forward Chandler Parsons did during pre-game introductions Friday. But in Tuesday’s win over Phoenix, Parsons was also booed in Memphis, his new home, where he signed a four-year, $94 million deal last summer.
Parsons underwent two surgeries on his right knee in less than a year during his tenure with the Mavs (2014-16). Thus, Grizzlies coach David Fizdale went on a rant defending Parsons after the team’s victory over the Suns.
“I told you guys, my lens is different than everyone else’s,” Fizdale said. “I’d like to see some of these people come off some of the injuries he’s had and try to come out and play in an NBA game, and do it well.
“It’s difficult, so I’m going to keep showing extreme confidence in him. I understand that it’s a real slow process. I’m happy that I have him for the minutes that I have him.”
Fizdale said the Grizzlies have to keep working towards getting Parsons in rhythm.
“Maybe it will help (critics/fans) to know that nobody on our team works harder than him,” Fizdale said. “He’s in here every day, all night, either getting treatment, lifting, shooting.
“My coaches with families are staying in here late at night with him, because he carries that weight heavier than anybody.”
▪ The Mavs are hopeful guard Wesley Matthews (hip) will be able to play Sunday’s against Oklahoma City. He has missed the past two games.
▪ Coach Rick Carlisle said guard J.J. Barea (calf) should be ready to play in the March 10 home game against Brooklyn. He’s missed the last 17 games.