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Dirk Nowitzki: NBA tanking ‘pretty obvious,’ but Mavs will ‘keep playing hard’

Dirk Nowitzki is a proud veteran, so it’s hardly surprising that he believes the Dallas Mavericks will “keep playing hard” despite the prevalence of “pretty obvious” tanking elsewhere in the NBA.

Nowitizki made his vow — not to mention is observation about tanking — following Tuesday’s 110-97 victory over the New York Knicks. The win moved the Mavs to 22-46 in a season that has been an absolute nightmare, both on and off the court.

“We keep playing hard,” Nowitzki said, via SportsDay. “There obviously are some teams that are going for some losses now. We’re one of the teams that still wants to win and see where we end up in the draft.

“We want to have a winning culture for our young guys and show them how to play and the work ethic and how to play to win. So that’s very important to us.”

When asked if he could tell which teams are tanking, Nowitzki replied, “Yeah, it’s pretty obvious.”

What makes Nowitzki’s comments intriguing — and perhaps resonate even more — is how it isn’t the first time 39-year-old has railed against the notion the Mavericks should tank.

Nowitzki has made his vehement aversion to tanking abundantly clear — on more than one occasion — in the wake of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban admitting he told players tanking was the team’s best option. Cuban was subsequently fined $600,000 by the NBA for his comments.

The Mavericks obviously cannot wait for their disastrous season to come to a merciful end. Having already been eliminated from postseason contention, the Mavericks are well on their way to a spot in the annual NBA Draft Lottery. But as Nowitzki sees it, what good is a few more ping pong balls if an organization has to sell its soul to get them?