|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
FRISCO, Texas -- Hate is too strong a word for Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki's feelings about the Miami Heat -- but not by much.
"In life, I don't really hate much," Nowitzki said Friday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's "Fitzsimmons and Durrett" after taking batting practice to prepare for his Heroes celebrity baseball game. "I'm an easygoing guy, but that's probably about as close as it gets."
The 2011 Finals MVP's deep-seated bitterness toward the Heat dates to the 2006 Finals, when Miami won the series in six games despite Dallas building a 2-0 lead. Dwyane Wade later cited Nowitzki's lack of leadership as one of the primary reasons the Mavs failed to win the championship.
In life, I don't really hate much. I'm an easygoing guy, but that's probably about as close as it gets.” -- Dirk Nowitzki on his feelings toward the Miami Heat
Five years later, with Jason Terry as his lone teammate remaining from the 2006 Finals, Nowitzki and the Mavs got their revenge by beating the Heat in six games.
Those Mavs remain the lone team to beat the Heat in a playoff series since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Wade in Miami.
That fact was apparently forgotten by Wade and coach Erik Spoelstra in the wake of their recent Game 7 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Wade and Spoelstra referred to this season's Finals as "the toughest series that we've ever been in," which stoked Dallas' disdain for the Heat.
"He might have preferred to say 'the toughest series that we won,'" Nowitzki said. "Yeah, for sure, the way they fought that out in Game 7 was an unbelievable series, but we did get 'em."