Dirk Nowitzki saw the video of Dwyane Wade and his buddy LeBron James mocking him before a Miami Heat shoot-around and the Mavericks star didn’t find the whole bit amusing. In fact, Nowitzki was a little offended.
During Saturday’s news conference, the Mavericks All-Star said Wade and James were “childish” and “ignorant” to mock his illness, although he didn’t say that it would add more motivation for him. “I’ve been in this league for 13 years. I’ve never faked an injury or an illness before,” Nowitzki told reporters.
“It happened. It’s over to me,” he said. “It’s not going to add anything extra to me. This is the NBA Finals. If you need an extra motivation at this time of year then you have a problem. We’re one win away from my dream, what I’ve worked on for half of my life.”
In the video, Wade and James appear to be faking a cough and covering their mouths when cameras were following them as they left Dallas’ American Airlines Center. Both Heat stars claim they were joking, but it was an obvious shot at Dirk who suffered through a bad sinus infection after Game 4.
“First of all, it wasn’t fake coughing,” Wade said. “I actually did cough. And with the cameras being right there, we made a joke out of it because we knew you guys were going to blow it up. You did exactly what we knew. We never said Dirk’s name. I think he’s not the only one in the world who can get sick or have a cough. We just had fun with the cameras being right in our face about the blowup of the incident, and it held to be true. You blew it up.”
James, on the other hand, avoided the whole issue. “I’m not feeding into that,” he said. “If you guys want to feed into everything that not only myself or D-Wade or the Miami Heat do, I think that’s a non-issue. There’s bigger issues in this series than that.”
James is right about one thing. There are bigger issues in this series than pretending to be sick. However, anything Wade and LeBron do on and off the court will be scrutinized, whether it’s real or not. And why add more fuel to the Mavericks’ fire? Though Nowitzki said he has already moved on, you know deep down he is steaming over this and will be extra fired up for Game 6. Any great athlete is always looking for an edge, and in the end the joke may be on Wade and LeBron.