O.J. Mayo amazed by Dirk Nowitzki's work ethic

DALLAS – After arriving in Dallas a month ago to work on his game, O.J. Mayo was stunned to see a certain 7-foot German dude sweating on the American Airlines Center practice court.

Rest assured that there won’t be a repeat of a rusty, out-of-shape Dirk Nowitzki showing up at training camp.

“He was in here working out and staying in shape,” Mayo said. “It was a crazy, crazy thing to see because he’s a franchise player and he was here early like it’s his first or second year. I think that’s enough said there.”

Nowitzki’s offseason regimen was a wreck last summer and fall, when he celebrated finally winning an NBA title, unsuccessfully tried to help the German national team qualify for the Olympics again and rested in anticipation of a long lockout. Nowitzki wasn’t ready when the lockout ended and admittedly was poorly prepared for a quickie camp and compressed schedule.

The results: Nowitzki had his worst statistical year since his second season, averaging 21.6 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 45.7 percent from the floor. He needed a week-plus personal minicamp early in the season to return to something resembling Nowitzki’s norm.

Nowitzki turned 34 over the summer, but the Mavs firmly believe he has a lot of elite basketball left in him. His work this summer confirmed that a hunger still burns in Nowitzki’s belly, perhaps refreshed after last season’s struggles.

“I just think Dirk’s going to come back stronger, ready to play, ready to prove something,” owner Mark Cuban said.