Dirk Nowitzki Opposes Mark Cuban's Take on Tanking, Saying 'No Quitting'

Mark Cuban might be a fan of tanking, but Dirk Nowitzki most certainly is not, and has warned against the risks of embracing a losing culture.

The Dallas Mavericks owner was fined $600,000 last week after suggesting his team should tank between now and the end of the season, but the 2011 NBA champion does not share Cuban’s opinion.

"You don't really want a culture here that's just giving up and quitting and not playing hard," Nowitzki said after the Mavs beat the Indiana Pacers on Monday, as reported by ESPN.

"I think it just sets the wrong tone for the future.”

GettyImages-909897090 Dirk Nowitzki has spent two decades with the Mavs. Getty Images

The Mavericks are on track to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year for the first time since the 1998-99 and 1999-00 seasons. The 13-time NBA All Star insisted avoiding a quitting culture was crucial to improving the franchise’s fortunes.

"I think it's important for our young guys to learn how to compete and to compete all the time, play hard,” he explained.

“You play your minutes hard. That's the only way to get better.

That's the only way to play in this league, and whatever happens after the season, we'll just go from there. But for now, you play your minutes hard and you play to win."

Nowitzki’s stance was echoed by Mavs small forward Harrison Barnes, who expressed concerns losing could go from being a tactical measure to a bad habit should the team not try its best game in, game out.

"You don't want to have an acceptance of losing," Barnes told ESPN. "Obviously, the quotes about tanking and all that type of stuff, you can't avoid that. We've been getting asked about that since they were said, but at the end of the day as professionals, as players, you have to go out there and you have to play to win.

"Any time you don't play to win or you're just kind of going through the motions, that can become contagious. That can become a habit, and that can become your culture. 'Oh, it's OK for us to do this. Oh, it's OK for us to not give full effort.' Then next season rolls around, and you can't flip that switch. It's still that malaise that you had from the year before."

Monday’s 109-103 win against the Pacers saw the Mavs snap a four-game losing streak and was the first success since Cuban was fined for his comments. 

Speaking to Julius Erving on the  "House Call with Dr. J" podcast on February 18, Cuban admitted the Mavs would be better off losing between now and the end of the season to improve their chances of being successful in the draft lottery.

"[NBA Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that [...] but being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players' owner and having stability," he said.

The Mavs are fourth from bottom in the Western Conference with a 19-42 record, which is the league's sixth worst at this stage of the season.

This season marks the final year when the teams with the league’s worst three records have a bigger chance of winning the draft lottery, with their odds standing at 25%, 19.9% and 15.6% in descending order.

From next year, however, the three teams at the bottom of the league will each have a 14% chance of winning the lottery. 

Join the Discussion