When most people speak of the ill will between Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki and Miami Heat superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the focus tends to be more on Wade blaming Nowitzki’s lack of leadership back in 2006 as the reason for why Dallas blew the NBA Finals that year. While those shameless comments obviously rubbed Nowitzki the wrong way, what really continues to irk him must be the way both Wade and James mocked Nowitzki getting sick during the 2011 NBA Finals as if to say the Nowitzki was faking his illness.
Who can forget Wade faking a cough as the two young leaders of the Heat explained bogus reasons, like the change in weather, for why Nowitzki got sick? Who can forget how angry Nowitzki got after watching it? Dirk was irked. “I thought it was ignorant,” Nowitzki said then.
All Wade and James had to do after their childish behavior was apologize to Nowitzki and move on. Instead, Wade decided to act as though he was actually coughing and brought up the weather only because the cameras were on the two and they knew the media would blow it up. Obviously, Nowitzki didn’t buy that excuse, and some believe he purposely avoided the last seconds of Dallas’ clinching of the NBA title back in 2011 because he did not want to shake either Wade or James’ hand.
That handshake still hasn’t come. Wade and James are obviously two of the best players in the world, but Nowitzki’s apparent refusal to shake either of their hands is probably Nowitzki’s way of saying he doesn’t respect them as men. When former Chicago Bulls great Scottie Pippen worked as a studio analyst for ESPN, he made it clear Detroit Pistons legend Bill Laimbeer is the one former NBA player whose hand he would never shake.
It’s too hard to imagine Nowitzki could possibly hold the same spite for James and Wade that Pippen developed for Laimbeer during their intense rivalry moons ago, but exactly when that handshake comes is anyone’s guess. Maybe it will come tonight when the future members of the NBA Hall of Fame square off in Dallas. Maybe it will come years from now when the superstars are on the same team. Nobody knows for sure, but you just can’t go on hating someone for the rest of your life. That’s not healthy.