Ex-Mavs on Nowitzki title quest: Not this time

MIAMI -- Erick Dampier lined up next to Dirk Nowitzki for six years in Dallas. They were locker room neighbors and remain friends.

Dampier would like for Nowitzki to win a championship before his Hall of Fame career is done.

Just not this month.

"He's going to do everything in this world to try to win," said Dampier, now with the Heat. "He's an excellent player. Hopefully at some point he'll get to finish off his career with a title."

Dampier isn't the only former teammate of Nowitzki's now with the Heat. Juwan Howard and Jamal Magloire also had stints with the Mavs.

Howard, 38, is also chasing an elusive first title after 17 years in the league. Asked if he would like to see Nowitzki complete that career quest, Howard wasn't going to show it.

"Not this time," he said with a grin. "Not while I'm playing. No disrespect."

Dampier hasn't talked to Nowitzki or any of his former Dallas teammates or coaches going into the Finals, and doesn't expect to until after the series is over.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle recently said that Nowitzki is one of the top 10 players in NBA history. While that could be debated, he's easily the league's greatest European ever.

Dampier doesn't believe the 2006 MVP needs to a ring to cement his place in the game.

"He's one of the best players ever at that position," Dampier said. "There are a lot of people out there that haven't won a title. If he doesn't win one, the legacy he'll leave behind is definitely a great one."