Dallas Mavericks

LeBron James has super respect for Mavericks’ Nowitzki

Video: LeBron James Praises Dirk Nowitzki

Cavaliers forward LeBron James heaps more praise on Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki (video by Mac Engel/Star-Telegram).
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Cavaliers forward LeBron James heaps more praise on Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki (video by Mac Engel/Star-Telegram).

The respect Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James has for Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki is off the charts.

Although Nowitzki doesn’t have any nationwide commercials like James has, the Cavs’ megastar knows the Mavs’ megastar is on his level in terms of what he has meant to the game of basketball.

“He’s one of my favorite players ever,” James said Tuesday. “He loves the game, and just his ability and what he’s able to do at his size, his ability to shoot the ball, his ability to sacrifice shots for other guys, and being a part of this team and part of this franchise for over the years, his loyalty obviously speaks volumes.

It’s just a shot that can’t be guarded obviously. You guys have seen it over the years with Dirk — you can’t contest it, you can’t guard it.

LeBron James on Dirk Nowitzki’s step-back, fall-away shot

“He’s just a true professional and a guy that continues to get better every year. And also when he slowed down just a bit he expanded on other parts of his game to still make him efficient and still make him effective out on the floor.”

Nowitzki’s favorite one-legged step-back fall-away shot has been so effective that James paid homage to the Mavericks’ 18-year veteran by making it a part of his arsenal.

“Any time you lift one leg and shoot it, everyone took that from Dirk,” James said. “It’s not a big piece of my arsenal, but I go to it every now and then.

“It’s just a shot that can’t be guarded obviously. You guys have seen it over the years with Dirk — you can’t contest it, you can’t guard it. It helps the fact that he’s 7-foot, too, when he’s shooting that shot.”

Front-row seat

Richard Jefferson is one player who has enjoyed a front-row seat watching both Nowitzki and James.

Last year Jefferson played for the Mavericks, and this year he’s playing for the Cavaliers. And the undeniable answer Jefferson gives whenever he’s asked to compare the two superstars is: “You cannot compare the two. They are completely different. But you can see why they’re so great on the court, because of just what they do and what they bring to the table.”

Jefferson, however, has noticed some subtleties that are parts of the DNA of Nowitzki and James.

“Their competitiveness, their intensity, their work ethic is very, very similar,” Jefferson said. “I haven’t really been around LeBron not since he was kind of young, so to see how hard he works it’s very similar to what Dirk does.”

LeBron James is a huge Cowboys fan. He attended the first Cowboys game played at AT&T Stadium on Sept, 21, 2009, against the New York Giants.

Rowdy surprise

When James returned to his Dallas-area hotel after practice Monday, he opened the door to find none other than Rowdy, the Dallas Cowboys mascot, waiting to greet him.

James let out a hearty laugh and gave Rowdy a big hug. A Cavaliers official set up the surprise meeting.

“I was greeted by the Dallas Cowboys mascot,” James said. “That’s what happened.”

James, of course, is a huge Cowboys fan. He even attended the first game played at AT&T Stadium when the Cowboys hosted the New York Giants on Sept, 21, 2009.

Briefly

▪ When asked if he plans on playing the Powerball lottery, which has reached a record $1.5 billion, Mavericks billionaire owner Mark Cuban laughed and said: “It’s not even worth the time. So what if I win?”

▪ The Mavs ManiACCs will be part of the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities in Toronto on Feb. 12-14. The all-male group was invited by the NBA.

Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @dwainprice

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