Dirk Nowitzki is using last year as a good learning experience. And it’s not because the Mavericks fell short of repeating as NBA champions.
Nowitzki didn’t properly prepare for the season and because of that, he took a different approach to staying in shape this summer.
The 34-year-old struggled to get into playing shape when the 2011-2012 season began, resulting in the All-Star power forward being shut down for four games in January to improve his conditioning and get his legs where they needed to be.
“For me, actually, it was a great lesson to learn,” Nowitzki said. “I can’t just shut it down all the way to zero anymore and expect to be in shape in four weeks. You can do that when you’re in your 20s, but not after 14 years in the league. So even though it was a tough year for me last year, I think it was a good learning experience for me.
“And this year, in the summer, even though I didn’t touch a ball for three and a half months, I was basically in the gym in June and July, lifting, keeping my legs strong, running. Even on all my trips, I always tried to lift and run and keep my conditioning up so that when I started basketball four weeks ago, the start-up was a lot easier than last year.”
Nowitzki then joked: “Last year, I couldn’t even touch the bottom of the backboard. This year, I could touch it a little bit.”
Because of that offseason work, Nowitzki said he’s looking forward to having a good season.
“I feel good,” Nowitzki later added. “And that’s already a big chunk. If I feel good, we’re going to be OK.”