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Larry Bird praises Dirk Nowitzki

Updated: May 31, 2011, 7:40 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

MIAMI -- With the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics out of the playoffs, Pacers president Larry Bird does not deny that he's pulling for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

That's mostly because of his longtime friendship with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, but also because Bird is an unabashed fan of Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki.

"I've always admired the guy," Bird said.

Carlisle has gone to great lengths during Nowitzki's playoff surge to dismiss longstanding and ...

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