DALLAS – Will Dirk Nowitzki ever appear in another All-Star Game? His boss would bet on it.
“I don’t have any doubt,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. “There’s no doubt in my mind at all.”
Nowitzki’s streak of 11 consecutive All-Star bids was snapped when the reserve selections were announced this week. That came as no surprise, considering Nowitzki missed the first 27 games of the season while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. He continues to try to work his way back into franchise-player form.
There is evidence from this season’s All-Star rosters that supports Cuban’s firm belief that the 34-year-old Nowitzki can return to that level. Two of Nowitzki’s peers, among the best power forwards in NBA history, are All-Stars again after a one-year absence: Boston’s Kevin Garnett, who returns after his 14-year streak was snapped last season, and San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, whose 13-year streak ended last season.
The biggest difference between Nowitzki and those fellow future Hall of Famers is that they’ve made the transition to center and continue to be dominant defenders. Defense, of course, has never been Nowitzki’s strength.
For Nowitzki to be an All-Star again, he’ll need to get back to being one of the league’s most lethal offensive weapons. While Cuban is confident that will happen, Nowitzki just wants to focus on putting in the work to make it a possibility.
“I don’t expect anything,” Nowitzki said. “I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m going to keep on working. I know I felt a lot better out there [Saturday] and especially in the first half than I have probably all month I’ve been back.
“I have no idea. I’m going to keep on working. Get some rest over the All-Star break, mix in some work and hopefully finish this season strong.”