DALLAS — Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, who continues to rehab from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, said the recovery process is taking longer than he expected.
Nowitzki spoke for the first time since shortly after the Oct. 19 procedure during the Mavs’ broadcast Monday night of their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Fox Sports Southwest. Team doctors initially said Nowitzki would be able to resume basketball activities in six weeks.
“At this point, I’ve got stay patient and do what the doctors and trainers tell me; just keep rehabbing and see how long it is,” Nowitzki said. “When I originally heard three-to-six weeks, in my mind I’m thinking ‘in two weeks I’m back.’ But unfortunately, this is not how it happens. My first knee surgery of my career and unfortunately this stuff takes longer than we expected.
“So I’ve got to be patient, do the smart thing and keep working.”
The Mavs need the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, badly. Also without forward Shawn Marion (left MCL sprain) for a third consecutive game, Dallas (4-4) lost its third in a row, 90-82, to a limping, but game T’Wolves squad that played without J.J. Barea, Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger, and then lost center Nikola Pekovic to a sprained ankle in the third quarter. Pekovic led the Wolves with 20 points. Of course, Minnesota was already without stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, yet is off to a 5-2 start.
Nowitzki was in the Mavs’ pre-game locker room briefly Monday between workout sessions. He said on the broadcast that he recently started running in the pool, adding the activity to riding a stationary bike. He said he was hopeful of increasing his exercises next week.
Nowitzki has been incredibly durable throughout his career. He’s dealt mostly with ankle sprains at points during his previous 14 seasons, but he always managed to return to action quicker than expected.
He began to have trouble with his right knee at the start of training camp last season. He believed the quick start to the season after the lockout and a brief training camp irritated his knee, causing swelling and discomfort. He missed four games early on to help strengthen the knee. He suffered similar issues early during this training camp and hoped to avoid surgery.
Nowitzki, who did not indicate that he’s had any setbacks, said it’s been difficult from a mental standpoint to be patient during the rehab process when he’d prefer to be on the floor with a team that is blending nine new players.
“I just want to be out there,” Nowitzki said. “To me, the recovery is not as quick as I was expecting. I had some down days, so I’m working on being in a good mood and still firing the guys up and being there every day, working out and working hard on some other stuff.”