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May 30, 2011

Dirk Nowitzki

MIAMI, FLORIDA: Practice Day

Q. Dirk, speak to the confidence that you guys bring into this series? And where your mindset is in terms of what you've done and what you can achieve?
DIRK NOWITZKI: I think we had a great playoff run so far. Beat some great teams. But it's the biggest challenge ahead of us. We face a team with three superstars and with a bunch of other players that can play, make shots around them. They are very good defensively. So this is the biggest challenge yet. But we've played well throughout the first couple of rounds. We got a bunch of veterans, I think, that want to win, that have been around forever. They're not selfish. We just want to play together and ultimately win and sacrifice. I think that's where we're at. We're going to start on the road this time around, but I thought we played well on the road this whole postseason run. We won a game in Portland. We won two in L.A. And we won two in Oklahoma last round.
We feel confident, and we should be ready to go.

Q. Dirk, you had an opportunity to leave Dallas. What was sort of the factors that played into you staying?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, you know, ultimately that's where my heart was at. I almost felt like we had unfinished business after '06. Had a great meeting with Mark there, free agency. All I needed was reassurance that he was going to keep going and keep building around this team, and keep putting all his resources for us to hopefully be up there one day.
We're here again at the big stage. Hopefully we can turn it around this year and finish strong.

Q. Dirk, D-Wade said the biggest change in your game since the '06 Finals is the ability to take over the game in the fourth quarter. The Heat really struggled with that during the regular season. Just like you guys in the playoffs, they have really done a good job there. How big is that going to be in the series, both teams closing in the fourth?
DIRK NOWITZKI: You know, both games are decided down the stretch. Both teams are very good down the stretch. Both teams are very good defensively, which you need. You need to lock down and get big stops. And both teams have guys down the stretch you can go to and create baskets. That's why both teams are here. They had a great comeback in Chicago, and we had one in OKC where we finished on a 16-2 run, or something.
So both teams have what it takes to finish strong. So it's going to be a very interesting series. It's going to be fun games hopefully for everybody involved. We'll just see who are the winners at the end.

Q. With everything you've accomplished in your career, how much do you feel like you need an NBA title to complete it?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, you know, there's been a lot made of what's my legacy without it, with it. I'm not really worried about all that. I'm trying to be on the best team. I'm trying to win it for this organization and for the owner and for myself and for the team. That's really all I'm worried about. I'm not worried about my legacy without the ring or with the ring. I'm living in the moment. We have another chance, and I'm going for it. Everything after that will fall into place the next couple of years. We can talk about my legacy once my career is over. I'm really just focused on winning and being on the best team left standing.

Q. Dirk, by the same token, there have been a lot of great players who have had Hall-of-Fame careers and not won a championship. There have been others who have been fortunate enough to win one very early in their career like Dwyane and had a chance to get back again. What's been the most difficult part of that challenge, to keep pushing all these years, not knowing if you would ever get another chance?
DIRK NOWITZKI: I think what you learn pretty quick in this league, that nothing you can take -- you can take nothing for granted. There's a lot of things that play into our great season, injuries, the team and just the whole surrounding. The year after the Finals we won 70 games. We thought, this was our year. You run into a hot matchup or a bad matchup for you, some hot players, next thing you know you're a first-round exit.
In this league you never know. You never know. It took a long five years to finally get back to this stage to be one of two teams still standing. It took a long time. Some ups and downs. But it's good to be back and hopefully we can make the most of it.

Q. Do you think people like the fact that if you guys do win it, it was hard for you, guys have been in The Finals and lost versus with them it's looked as the easy way out, they joined together and won?
DIRK NOWITZKI: I don't know what it's being looked at, we as players. I don't think we really care. We are facing a very tough team, a very good team with a bunch of closers and leaders. And so we've got to just go from there and bring our best game. But we as players, we're not really worried about who are the good guys or the bad guys, what the fans want. That's not going to matter to us anyhow.

Q. When they joined last year, did you think they were automatic favorite right away?
DIRK NOWITZKI: On paper they were. I think it took them a while there in November, December to kind of learn how to play off each other. I think D-Wade was basically hurt. He missed all pre-season. And then in November it was kind of natural, I guess, to struggle a little bit. Because they never had games with each other. But I think they're a completely new team now since the new year. They're way better defensively, and offensively they play off each other as good as anybody now.
So, yeah, they're a different team than they were at the beginning of the season.

Q. I was going to say, the Heat, the Bulls and the Celtics had the Heat's number during the season and they defeated them on the way to the Finals. Is the team you are going to face tomorrow so vastly different than the one you saw during the regular season?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Yeah, we were kind of fortunate I guess to play our two games early. We saw them in November and December. We haven't seen them since.
Yeah, they're playing unbelievable basketball now both ends of the floor. I think Haslem is back now, a big key for them, a glue guy on both ends of the floor. So, yeah, they're a much better team now than they were. And they showed it in these playoffs. They got guys who close, they are good defensively. So they got what it takes to win it all.

Q. Dirk, both defensive philosophies have to guard so many guys and alter and adjust. For you, where do you start in dealing with Miami?
DIRK NOWITZKI: It's tough. Obviously you would love to keep those guys out of the lane. That's where Wade and LeBron are at their best, when they drive to get to the basket, they get fouled and go to the free-throw line. There's no defense for it.
But obviously, that's the approach of 29 other teams, and nobody really could do it. Especially here in the playoffs. And they are both comfortable shooting the outside shot. I think LeBron is knocking down shots left and right now, which makes it tough to guard him. So it's not going to be on one guy. We have to have our defense set. You can't give them anything in transition. I think that's when they're tough, when they get run-outs. They are so fast. One or two dribbles they are at the other end laying it in.
We have to make sure we get our defense set, make them attack against five guys. One-on-one, nobody can guard those guys. So we have to have five guys on the string and battle, and that's what we've been doing all year. With Tyson and Haywood for us in the middle, clogging up the middle, and the rest is kind of rotate around them and hopefully make it hard for them.

Q. Dirk, how has experience in terms of age for this team helped this team get to where you are? And how should it help you in these Finals?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, I think the experience has been a major key for us, just because we've been through a lot. We've seen a lot in the playoffs. You know, I always say in the regular season you don't want to get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. But in the playoffs, that's even more the case. You can get a big win, but you kind of want to forget about it the next day and go back because you don't want to lose the next game, the same with a loss. In the Portland series in Game 4, we blew a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter and came back in Game 5 and won a big game. Everybody said we're dead after that. But we're a bunch of veterans. We've seen it all in this league. And we recovered from both pretty quick, wins and losses.
You know you have to keep an even keel throughout the playoffs. That's what we did and that's what got us here. A bunch of veterans, led by J-Kidd, who is a fossil, but he's amazing still on both ends of the floor and leading this team. He's been amazing.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Dirk.
DIRK NOWITZKI: Thank you, guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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