‘I Felt It Was A Little Disrespectful’ | Dirk Nowitzki Opens Up About Dwayne Wade and LeBron James Mocking His ‘Flu Game’ During 2011 NBA Finals

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Former Dallas Mavericks superstar and 2007 NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki recently opened up about the disdain he once held for LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

In an interview with Chris Goodwell of Yahoo! Sports, the sweet-shooting German spoke about an incident that took place during the 2011 NBA Finals. The disdain, he said, came about after the super tandem mocked Dirk’s illness during Game five of the series, which Dallas eventually won. James and Wade were caught fake coughing and joking about Nowitzki’s reported flu diagnosis (cue visions of Jordan and Kobe). 

“We saw it after Game 5, but I didn’t see it. Honestly I felt it was a little disrespectful. But it didn’t add to my motivation if that makes sense. I’m one game from achieving my dreams, one I’ve chased 12 years in the league.”

Mavericks Teammates Took Things Personally for Dirk

Teammate Corey Brewer says Dirk most definitely took things personally, in an interview on “All Things Covered with Patrick Peterson and Bryan McFadden.”

“Oh for sure, Dirk took it personally … Everybody did. We saw it, everybody saw it. They were making fun of the big guy. If you make fun of the big guy you’re making fun of everybody, and I guess that’s kind of the way we went out there and played. We played some great ball…”

The game-five win put Nowitzki and the underdog Mavericks up 3-2, heading to South Beach with a chance to close it out in Game 6, which they did, defeating the Heat to capture the franchise’s first NBA championship.

The year 2011 was the first of the Miami Heat’s Big Three featuring James, Wade and Chris Bosh. Miami was a heavy favorite coming into the Finals against the veteran-laden Mavericks team led by Nowitzki.

Here’s what Dirk had to say about catching them at the right time.

“We were super fortunate to run into them in Year 1. They were super hesitant. They hadn’t figured out their roles yet. If we ran into them in Year 3, they probably would have beat us handily.”

Wade And LeBron Both Learned Invaluable Lessons

Dwayne Wade and LeBron James are known as two pretty standup guys, and both took accountability for their actions. 

In an interview with The Washington Post, Wade called it being young and immature, and an embarrassment.

“The coughing incident was just being young. Taking something that you didn’t think was as serious, and it was serious from a standpoint of sickness and health — and just being a young kid and making fun of something. Trying to get a laugh or do something for the camera.”

Wade says he doesn’t even look at the clip anymore, and it was just silly games and jokes. Jabbing at the media for providing Dirk with what they perceived as excuses.

“I don’t even like looking at the clip. I would tell my son not to do something like that. It wasn’t anything personal towards Nowitzki; it was just in the moment of the media trying to come up with stories. Kind of making fun of it, play he’s sick, all right; what other excuse are you going to give him? It became a big thing. Do you mean to do something in that matter? Probably not, but you did it. You take it on the chin and move on.”

As for James, he had the worst NBA Finals performance of his career. He scored eight points in an NBA Finals game in that series.

Although the Heat would go on to win titles in the next two seasons, (2012 and 2013), they also lost in 2014  to the Spurs. Following that series loss the nomadic James returned to Cleveland.

While there’s no hard feelings between the players now, there’s also no love lost. Wade and Dirk first battled in the NBA Finals in 2006, a series Dallas led 2-0 before some extremely questionable refereeing changed the momentum of the series, leading to a comeback by the Heat as they won four straight games to clinch Wade’s first championship and Shaq’s fourth and final ring. 

The two rivals recently worked the NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland and seemed to be cool.

“We just did the All-Star Game together [Wade works for TNT],” Dirk told Yahoo. I hopped on the broadcast for a couple minutes. I think we’re totally fine. Honestly, I think we’re way past it. Not every competitor can be friends. What’s there now is a mutual respect.”

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