Dirk Nowitzki continues to show respect to Dwyane Wade ahead of Hall of Fame enshrinement

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Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki carried some hard feelings toward each other throughout their NBA playing careers, but now that they are headed into the Basketball Hall of Fame together, the Miami Heat legend continues to receive kind words from the Dallas Mavericks icon.

“I wouldn’t say we’re friends,” Nowitzki said. “I think there’s a mutual sense of respect for each other’s career and obviously were cordial. … There’s no bad blood, obviously, anymore. We all moved on, things were said on both sides or done that neither side liked, but that’s part of competition at the highest level.

“… So, are we friends? No, we don’t text each other but there’s a lot of respect there and we’re both happy to go into the Hall of Fame together.”

Nowitzki has tried his best to soften the rivalry heading into the enshrinement ceremonies to be held next weekend. The 45-year-old recently said he and Wade “actually bonded” during a Hall of Fame dinner in April.

The animosity stems from an on-court rivalry played out at the highest level, with the Heat and Mavericks meeting twice in the NBA Finals during their careers.

Miami and Dallas first played in the 2006 NBA Finals, which was won by Wade and the Heat in six games.

It reached new heights in the 2011 NBA Finals when Nowitzki was motivated by revenge for that first loss while still looking for his first championship. During the 2011 series, Wade and LeBron James were caught on camera appearing to mock Nowitzki, who played Game 4 with a sinus infection.

Nowitzki responded by describing it as childish and ignorant, and Wade tried to defend it as a joke because he and James knew they were on camera.

The move backfired as it further motivated Nowitzki, who “hated” the Heat Big 3 that included Chris Bosh, according to former Mavericks teammate J.J. Barea. Dallas had trailed the best-of-seven series 2-1 but rallied with three straight wins that gave Nowitzki the only NBA championship of his 21 seasons.

Wade and James combined to win the 2012 and 2013 titles with Miami before losing in the 2014 NBA Finals. Those last two series were played against the San Antonio Spurs, who coincidentally will have guard Tony Parker and head coach Gregg Popovich enshrined alongside Wade and Nowitzki at the upcoming ceremonies.

There has been no hint of bad blood between Wade and the Spurs to a level close to what happened between him and Nowitzki. And though the 41-year-old has not in turn specifically addressed his relationship with Nowitzki heading into the Hall of Fame, fans can be sure it will be an enjoyable ceremony for all involved.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.