Grantland Q&A with Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki sat down for an extended one-on-one with Zach Lowe of Grantland.com after Monday's loss to reflect on his career, his legacy, the current Dallas Mavericks team, Shark Tank, and Shawn Marion's shooting mechanics. The result: Vintage Dirk.

Some snippets:

How difficult has it been coming back from knee surgery? How have you had to change your game? You seem to be dribbling less and posting up less, but I could be imagining that.

Dirk: It has been tough. It didn't help that we were losing, and so maybe I came back too early. I didn't move well when I came back. I had no explosiveness at all. I mean, most of my game is not really based on explosiveness, but I’ve gotta have a little lift on my jumper. I pride myself on the fact that when I first got in the league, I was a spot-up shooter, and when they switched on pick-and-rolls, my game was just gone.

Are you in pain at all?

Dirk: No. It's just … I guess when you're older, and after two months you start from scratch, it just took me a lot longer than I thought. That shows me how important my stuff is I do in the summer — running, lifting, shooting, and when I was younger, playing for Germany. I was always in tip-top shape, and I never had to start from scratch. It was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I'm glad the worst is over.

Rumor has it the team calls you the Big Mummy now. Because you’re so stiff, I guess. Who came up with that, if it’s true?

Dirk: [Laughs] … I don't know, I think it was [Mavs assistant] Darrell Armstrong. He's one of the craziest guys ever in this league. But, honestly, that's not only this year. In the mornings, even the year we won it all, if you watch me in shootaround, I just look so stiff. First of all, I'm not a morning guy, so I run all stiff-legged in shootaround. But "Mummy" is a really good one.

What other shots do you admire around the league? I’m not talking about something as general as Ray Allen’s jumper. I’m talking specific shots.

Dirk: I'm such a dork, still. This is my 15th year and I still sit, when my wife's asleep, I sit there and watch League Pass. I do it from sometimes 9 p.m. till 12:30 a.m., until the West Coast games are over. I was always a huge fan of Kobe. Obviously, he's now on the declining end, like most of us older guys, but the stuff he does … They are never out of a game. When I get home, at like 11 p.m., I know the fourth quarter will just be starting in L.A., and I'll sit down and watch him basically will his team to win with some incredible shots.

When Shawn Marion makes one of his crazy shots, you immediately scream, “OF COURSE!” I’ve heard you do it even before the shot goes in. Are you being ironic?

Dirk: Oh, yeah, it's ironic. Sometimes I'm thinking, I spend millions of hours in the gym working on my jumper, and he just runs in there, sometimes from 15 feet, and he's barely looking at the basket. I really like his runner, though. That's money. I'm talking about the one where he dribbles and doesn't even look, spins halfway around in the air, and throws that half-floater, half-jump hook up, and somehow it goes in. I've been watching him for four years, and I'm still in awe on the bench sometimes, like, "How does he make those?" He's fun to watch. He's a special, unique player. I've never seen the shots he takes and makes.

There's so much more gold in this Q&A. Click here to read the rest.