Charles Barkley again admits to illegally recruiting Dirk Nowitzki to Auburn (Video)

We all know that illegal recruiting is commonplace in the world of collegiate athletics, but most people prefer not to talk about it. Charles Barkley enjoys talking about everything. At a celebrity softball game over the weekend, Barkley was telling a story in the locker room while his teammates listened attentively and cameras captured the action. Sir Charles spoke about the time he first met Dirk Nowitzki, which was during a Team USA exhibition game against Germany back in 1997. Dirk was only 19 at the time, but he managed to torch Team USA for 42 points and 17 rebounds with Scottie Pippen guarding him the majority of the game.

Needless to say, Barkley was impressed — so impressed that he claims he committed a series of recruiting violations to try to convince Dirk to attend Auburn.

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Mike Napoli wins $100 from Dirk Nowitzki for Italy’s Euro 2012 win over Germany

If Twitter were never invented, Mike Napoli may be out of $100 today. Fortunately it was, which means rivalries and trash talking across professional sports can exist and we have yet another medium by which to gamble. What started out as friendly smack talk on Twitter earlier this week between Napoli and Dirk Nowitzki turned into Dirk owing Napoli $100 after Italy beat Germany in the semifinals of Euro 2012 on Thursday afternoon.

Before the match, Napoli tweeted at Dirk that the Italians were “taking your Germans down today.” Italy went up 2-0 early in the match, and here are some of the tweets that followed between the two — a few of which include a sports psychology consultant (@think2win). Thanks to the Dallas Morning News for pointing out the exchange.

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Dirk Nowitzki picks Spurs over Thunder, says Pop is best coach in the NBA

So much for that heated rivalry between the Mavericks and Spurs. Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki is picking San Antonio to beat the Thunder in the Western Conference finals of the NBA playoffs, and he lauded Gregg Popovich while doing so.

“I think San Antonio’s going to do it, just because they’ve got one more home game,” he said Tuesday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Galloway & Company.” “They really came on strong late in the season and they snatched home-court advantage away from OKC. So, I got to think just by that there is a little slight advantage. But honestly, both teams are good enough to win on the opponent’s floor, so I would give a slight advantage to San Antonio, but, man, OKC is looking really good.”

Dirk praised Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for keeping his team among the best in the NBA.

“To me, he’s the best coach in the league, he’s a genius on both ends of the floor,” Nowitzki said. “The adjustment that he goes through — at the beginning they win all their championships with defense, and he saw where the game’s going; the game is going to free-flowing and more movement, you need basically four shooters on the floor at all times, and he’s the man, he made it all happen.”

Nowitzki went on to praise the team’s front office and their ability to find and develop draft prospects that other teams overlook. And unlike other players who claim they stop watching the playoffs once their team is eliminated, Dirk says he’s following things closely. It’s obvious he thinks extremely highly of the Spurs considering his team was swept by OKC.

Young Mavs fan takes picture of his hand after Dirk Nowitzki high fives it

Dirk Nowitzki was pretty pumped after making a sweet baseline jumper from behind the basket against the Knicks Tuesday. After nailing the shot to put the Mavs up 88-78 with 2:27 left, Dirk celebrated by high-fiving some of the fans sitting courtside. Dirk was seriously stoked and went a bit overboard on his high fiving, to the point where he nearly took a young fan’s arm off. The young boy managed to recover and was so proud to have exchanged contact with the Mavs superstar, he used his camera phone to take a picture of his hand:

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Dirk Nowitzki ribs Jason Terry who wants in on 3-point contest ‘He needs to start making a few’

Mavericks guard Jason Terry didn’t make the All-Star team, but he wants to participate in the three-point contest. Teammate Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t seem to think he deserves a spot.

“He needs to start making a few,” Dirk said of Terry Friday, “especially on the road he hasn’t really shot the ball that well.”

Dirk’s right — Terry’s only shooting 37.6% on his three pointers this season. He’s a 38% three-point shooter for his career, which is alright, but nothing special. If he really wants a spot in the competition, he needs to be up with Ray Allen who’s second in the league at 51.5% for the season.

You might find it strange that Dirk would be so critical of a teammate, but it’s nothing new. Last year in the Finals, Dirk called out Jason Terry for his poor play the first two games of the series. The remarks worked and JET became one of Dallas’ best players the rest of the series. Maybe his words on Friday will inspire better shooting from Terry in the future.

Dirk Nowitzki says he does not deserve to be an All-Star

Dirk Nowitzki has been one of the NBA’s best players for the last decade. As you know, his career reached its peak last season when the Mavericks won the NBA Finals and Dirk took home Finals MVP honors. However, Nowitzki has been battling a knee injury this year and has not been himself. Although he’s turned it on lately with 24 points against the Cavs and 30 against the Pacers, Dirk does not feel as though he has done enough to deserve an All-Star spot this season.

“Not really,” he said according the Dallas Morning News. “I mean, averaging whatever, 15, 16 points, I don’t think you should be an All-Star. But we’ll just have to wait and see. I think there’s a lot of great young talent in this league that deserves to go. I think LaMarcus Aldridge has been stiffed the last couple of years. He’s a great young player, fun to watch. You know Blake (Griffin); and (Kevin) Love is playing great, so there’s a lot of talent at my position. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

Nowitzki was not named a Western Conference All-Star starter last week, but the coaches have yet to vote on reserves. He is right about his position being fairly stacked this season, so coaches would merely be showing a veteran some respect if they selected Dirk as a reserve. The man is honest if nothing else. Well, we know he’s plenty else.

Dirk Nowitzki ‘I Haven’t Seen one Team in the West That I’m Scared of’

Dirk Nowitzki’s Dallas Mavericks are tied for the Southwest Division lead at 12-8. Though the defending champs haven’t looked like the best team in the NBA through the first part of the season, Dirk still believes his team is the favorite to reach the NBA Finals.

“I haven’t seen one team in the West that I’m scared of,” Nowitzki reportedly said Friday. “I really haven’t. I think we can compete with all of them.

“Oklahoma City has probably the best record, but I think we’ve played them well every time we’ve seen them and everybody else has been up and down.”

The Mavs have split with the Thunder this season, losing the first matchup on a last-second three from Kevin Durant, and winning the rematch at home by 13. Dallas also beat Oklahoma City in the Eastern Conference finals last year.

Despite Dallas’ 0-3 start, and Dirk sitting out some games to rest his knee and get into better shape, he’s right — the road to the Finals goes through the Mavericks. The only problem is the Thunder may be good enough to beat them this year.

Chest bump I am a GM