MIAMI (Reuters) - A mock coughing spell by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade was childish and ignorant, said Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, the target of the spoof.
James and Wade, the Miami Heat’s top players, were coughing and smirking while leaving Thursday’s pre-game shoot-around at the American Airlines Center, an obvious reference to Nowitzki’s coughing in Tuesday’s Game Four of the NBA Finals.
”I just thought it was a little childish, a little ignorant,“ Nowitzki, who saw a video of the incident, said on Saturday. ”I’ve been in this league for 13 years. I’ve never faked an injury or an illness before.
“But it happened. It’s over to me. It’s not going to add anything extra to me. This is the NBA Finals. If you need an extra motivation, you have a problem.”
Nowitzki played with a sinus infection and a 101-degree temperature but still scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds. He was coughing on the bench during the Mavericks’ 86-83 victory.
The video has been shown repeatedly on television and been discussed for days on sport-talk radio.
When asked about the episode, James said, “I‘m not feeding into that... There’s bigger issues in this series than that.”
Wade noted he and James “never said Dirk’s name” but did not deny Nowitzki was the intended target.
“With the cameras being right there, we made a joke out of it because we knew you guys were going to blow it up,” he told reporters. “You did exactly what we knew.”
Nowitzki can have the last laugh if the Mavericks can win Game Six on Sunday and claim the title. Dallas leads the best-of-seven series 3-2.
”We’re one win away from my dream, what I’ve worked on for half of my life,“ said Nowitzki. ”This is really all I‘m worried about. This is all I‘m focusing on.
“And not off the court stuff that happened.”
Editing by Ken Ferris