- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS – Patience hasn’t been one of Dirk Nowitzki’s many virtues in the past.
Nowitzki has taken pride in his ability to return from injuries quickly over the course of his career. He’s never missed more than nine games in a season, which is almost certain to change with him undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery a week and a half before the Oct. 30 opener against the Lakers.
Now, as much as Nowitzki hates to miss games, he recognizes the need to take his time as he rehabs from the first knee operation of his career.
"I’d love to play next Tuesday, but that’s not going to happen," Nowitzki said. "So I’m just going to have to be patient."
Step one: Get rid of the swelling. That means a lot of icing the knee with his leg elevated.
“That’s what you focus on first, but who knows?” Nowitzki said. “If the swelling is going to stay in there for two more weeks, it pushes everything back. This first week is very important.”
Nowitzki described himself as “actually encouraged” with the way the knee feels now, four days after the operation. He’s walking without a limp and has done some light work on an exercise bike. He has also done more strenuous work on a hand bike, an attempt to not fall too far behind with his conditioning.
The next step will be running on the pool treadmill and working on the elliptical machine. Once the swelling is gone, Nowitzki can start doing some stand-still shooting.
Once he’s fully cleared, Nowitzki will likely need a week or two of practice to work his way back into basketball shape while acclimating himself to a roster than features eight newcomers.
“Once the swelling’s gone, we’re going to do a lot of court stuff and running and see how the knee responds to all that,” Nowitzki said. “We’re still a few weeks away from that.
“But I’m never afraid of working. I’m going to do everything possible to come back as soon as I can. I never liked missing games or liked sitting over there in a suit. I want to be out there as soon as I can.”
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