Well, it clearly was a dumb foul. But you don’t really have to say it was a dumb foul, right?
Leave that to us jerks in the press, Dirk Nowitzki. Kirk Hinrich made what by his own admission was a “boneheaded” play when he fouled Monta Ellis intentionally behind the three-point line with Kirk’s Chicago Bulls up three points late in regulation on Tuesday night, and Dirk Nowitzki pulled no punches following the contest. A reminder:
"In my 17 years, it was one of the dumber fouls I've ever seen," Nowitzki said in a matter-of-fact tone. "You wait all the way until he dribbles to the 3-point line to grab him, so that's obviously a tough one, tough play. I saw coach [Tom] Thibodeau was just shaking his head."
Dirk is absolutely correct on all counts, but NBA fans rarely get to read quotes from NBA players going on record as speaking truth to power about other players. Even players with obvious and lingering beefs will toss out the pablum and avoid confrontation when it comes to stuff like this when talking to media postgame, save for some recent exceptions to the unwritten rule.
In retrospect, and after a good night’s sleep on the plane up to Milwaukee, Dirk Nowitzki feels a bit of regret for being candid and open in his comments. From Eddie Sefko at the Dallas Morning News:
“Yeah, it got overblown a little bit,” he said. “You know, Kirk is actually my guy. We went to dinners before. I didn’t really mean to put him on the spot like that. It was an unfortunate play. We’ve all been part of unfortunate situations. I don’t know if Thibs wanted them to foul, but it was just way too late.
“They had a chance to foul Monta when he dribbled two or three times up the floor. The situation was just a bad one, but it was fortunate for us. But I didn’t mean to put my man Kirk on the spot like that, because he’s a good dude. He’s a hard-nosed player. He made two 3s right before that actually to put them in position to win, so I have nothing but respect for Kirk Hinrich. I didn’t mean to really get it out like that.”
Hinrich would likely wave off any apology, as the NBA veteran and coach’s kid probably wholeheartedly agrees with Nowitzki’s initial assertion. The longtime Bulls guard has struggled this year, drawing the ire of Bulls fans well before his Tuesday night boner, but he rebounded nicely on Wednesday – nailing two needed three-pointers down the stretch of Chicago’s 102-95 win over the reeling Charlotte Hornets.
Kirk Hinrich is a good dude, and a hard-nosed player, as Nowitzki points out. He’s not immune from criticism, however, because while his late-game misstep made all the headlines, it was his ineffective work off the bench in the loss to the Mavericks that caused far greater damage to Chicago’s chances. If you’ll allow myself to, um, quote myself:
Kirk Hinrich did not lose the game with that foul. He lost it by failing to initiate possessions early, over-dribbling + poor entry passes.
— Kelly Dwyer (@KDonhoops) December 3, 2014
If Dirk Nowitzki and Kirk Hinrich truly are friends, this is an insight into their friendship. Nowitzki wasn’t really ribbing Hinrich, he was telling the truth, but these are how friends sometimes talk about each other. When there is egg on the face, you’re allowed to point it out. Sometimes you’re even allowed to laugh.
Dirk Nowitzki’s initial comments would be a major problem if the whole of the Western world, including Kirk Hinrich, didn’t completely agree with him.
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