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News » Nowitzki brings carefree look into Mavs' season

Nowitzki brings carefree look into Mavs' season

Nowitzki brings carefree look into Mavs' seasonDALLAS (AP) - Dirk Nowitzki strolled back onto the scene Monday looking like a carefree surfer, his long, curly blond hair framing a wide smile.

The Mavericks forward even had a tan to boot, quite a departure from the ashen-faced All-Star who five months ago politely told reporters he didn't want to talk about the arrest at his Dallas home of a former girlfriend who said she was pregnant with his child.

Dallas was days away from elimination in the second round of the playoffs by Denver when news broke of Cristal Taylor's arrest on a theft-of-service warrant and a probation violation. The 7-footer couldn't get home to his native Germany fast enough once the season was over, but he looked just as eager to be back on media day leading into his 12th NBA season.

"He looks like he just got off the beach. How can you not look happy?" said Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. "If I could grow my hair down to my shoulders and look like I just got finished surfing, what's not to like? That's just Dirk."

The 38-year-old Taylor is now serving a four-year prison sentence in Missouri on the probation violation. Nowitzki's attorney says prison records show Taylor isn't pregnant, apparently clearing the way for Nowitzki to focus solely on basketball again.

First, though, he tried to answer the questions he didn't want to address when the news was so fresh, although he says he still prefers to skip most of the details.

Nowitzki said he felt a "roller coaster" of emotions, including anger and sadness. Still, he was surprised to discover that the episode didn't consume his thoughts the way he figured it would. Within weeks, he said he could make it through a day without dwelling on the messy breakup.

He said the support of Cuban, the Mavericks and his family helped him through the emotional times, then he was taken aback during the summer by countless letters of support from fans who wrote of similar experiences.

"Just reading that made me feel great. You're not the only guy that went through a tough time in life," Nowitzki said. "That was really special."

Now, the 31-year-old former MVP said his goal is not to let the incident change him.

"I was really not the kind of guy that walked around and trusted everybody anyway. But it still happened," Nowitzki said. "I'm not going to change who I am. I'll always have fun with people. Obviously my goal is still to have a family sooner or later, so I'd better start trusting somebody here soon."

Nowitzki's mind is back on basketball after his first summer without playing competitively in about a decade. That included about a nine-week stretch of doing basically nothing, which Nowitzki acknowledged wasn't by accident.

The Mavericks made some big changes while he was gone. The biggest move was maintaining the status quo by re-upping with point guard Jason Kidd for three years. But they also altered the dynamic of their lineup by trading for Shawn Marion to try to solve matchup problems they believe have dogged them in recent years.

Dallas also added Drew Gooden, and there's talk of him becoming an offensive alternative to Erick Dampier at center.

Still, it all starts with Nowitzki, who averaged 36 points in the three games after Taylor's arrest but couldn't stop the Nuggets from rolling to a 4-1 series victory.

"I just think that showed me that I'm mentally tougher than a lot of people think," Nowitzki said. "I played through that. I played through injuries. I may not be the most physically tough player, but I think mentally I'm right up there."

Always protective of personal matters, Nowitzki doesn't want to test his mental toughness that way again. While he most assuredly has the typical goals of shooting better, rebounding better and playing better defense, he offers a unique area where wants to improve.

"Hopefully I can do a better job of keeping my private life out of the media," Nowitzki said.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: September 29, 2009


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