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Mark Cuban chides Dirk Nowitzki for napping through games

Mar 18, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

David Lee, Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki had 12 points and six rebounds in the Dallas Mavericks’ 23-point loss to the Warriors on Thursday, Dallas’ second-largest margin of defeat this season. After a strong game against the lowly Jazz, he had just four rebounds in a 23-point win over the Thunder.

Neither performance satisfied Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Cuban, via Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram:

“I think sometimes he loses concentration, and I think we’ve got to get past that,” Cuban said. “I mentioned it to him today. I asked him how his nap was during the game [Sunday at Oklahoma City]. He laughed. At least that’s while I was facing him. When I turned my back and walked away, I don’t know.”

“Dirk always goes through a little slump during the year where he needs to remotivate. And I think we’ve seen that for a couple of games, and I think he’s going to come back stronger, particularly after three days and those naps he’s gotten through the last couple of games.”

Honestly, I’m shocked to see Cuban admonish Nowitzki so strongly publicly. Cuban is usually highly praiseworthy of his star player.

And even if Nowitzki slipped for a few games, cut him a break.

At 35, he’s having renaissance season. His PER (23.9) is his highest in seven years. Nobody as old as his him is playing as much as he does (32.2 minutes per game). All in all, nobody is doing more to keep Dallas in playoff position.

Cuban spoke before the Mavericks beat the Celtics on Monday, when Nowitzki had 19 points on 6-of-17 shooting and six rebounds. No word on whether that satisfied the owner.

For his part, Nowitzki accepted responsibility when asked about Cuban’s comments. Maybe that’s because he knew, even before helping his team beat Boston, he’s earned a grace period.

Cuban:

“I’m allowed to call him out once every 10 years,” Cuban said.

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