Philadelphia Dirk Nowitzki had no love for Dwyane Wade on Sunday when he responded for the first time to the NBA Finals MVP's recent comments questioning his leadership.
Nowitzki, an MVP candidate for the league-leading Mavericks, struck a nerve two weeks ago when he said Dallas gave the NBA championship to the Heat last season. Wade responded Thursday, telling Miami reporters, "He's the reason they lost the championship, because he wasn't the leader he's supposed to be in the closing moments."
Mark Cuban, the outspoken Mavericks owner, responded to Wade in his blog, saying, "You don't have a clue" about Nowitzki's leadership and telling Wade, "You obviously have an over-inflated value of your own."
Nowitzki hadn't commented on the controversy until Sunday, when he spoke with Newsday before Dallas played the 76ers.
"All I said two weeks ago when we played them was, we feel like we gave them the championship," Nowitzki said. "We had a 2-0 lead, we were up 10 with a couple of minutes left in Game 3. If we win that Game 3, we have a chance to close the series out. That's really all I said, and I don't know why he got all sensitive about it."
Asked if Wade's response surprised him, Nowitzki said, "I really don't care. Hopefully we'll get a rematch and we'll go from there."
In an interview aired during ABC's telecast of the Heat-Spurs game Sunday, Wade said he doesn't want to go "back and forth" with Nowitzki. Wade and Nowitzki will see each other Sunday at the All-Star Game in Las Vegas, and after the break when Dallas hosts Miami Feb. 22.