Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade belong to a very tiny fraternity. All three men are NBA Finals MVPs, champions and among the 75 greatest players in league history.
Given the group they belong to and the history they share, it would be natural to assume that they are friends. Or at the very least, acquaintances with a decent relationship.
As it turns out, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Apparently Nowitzki still hasn’t forgotten how the pair treated him once upon a time.
Back in 2011, the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat were facing off for the NBA championship. The latter squad got up 2-1 on the former at one point, and that’s when James and Wade really started feeling themselves.
That confidence culminated in them mocking Nowitzki’s illness at the time with a bunch of fake coughing.
Nowitzki never forgot it.
“We saw it after Game 5, but I didn’t see it. Honestly, I felt it was a little disrespectful,” Nowitzki told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “[But] it didn’t add to my motivation, if that makes sense. I’m one game away from achieving my dreams, one I’ve chased 12 years into the league.”
And while Nowitzki would be the first to admit he and Wade are amicable now, clearly the pair still isn’t overly-friendly.
“We just did the All-Star Game together [Wade works for TNT]. I hopped on the broadcast for a couple minutes. I think we’re totally fine,” Nowitzki said. “Honestly, I think we’re way past it. Not every competitor can be friends. What’s there now is a mutual respect.”
The “not every competitor can be friends” part of that statement is obviously telling.
Now that’s how you celebrate a win. https://t.co/Qkvg4hXTL0
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 10, 2022
Wade is just that kind of personality.
Will he and Nowitzki ever get to the point where they can truly call one another friends? Time will tell.
Charles Kruger has been credentialed to cover two Super Bowls, four NBA Finals, and one World Series. A 20-year veteran in the sports world, he has sources spanning the NBA, MLB, NFL, UFC and NASCAR. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Calif., he is Game 7’s go-to source for rumors surrounding the Lakers, Clippers and Dodgers.