Dirk Nowitzki Was in Pain on Wednesday Because Karl Malone Injured Him in 1999

Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterFebruary 27, 2014

DALLAS - DECEMBER 20:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks goes up for the layup against Karl Malone #32 of the Utah Jazz during the NBA game at American Airlines Center on December 20, 2002 in Dallas, Texas.  The Jazz won 93-81.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory copyright notice:  Copyright 2002 NBAE.  (Photo by: Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images)
Glenn James/Getty Images

Please don't worry, Mavericks fans, because that left shoulder injury Dirk Nowitzki suffered recently is just an old war wound given to him by Karl "Mailman" Malone, who apparently once delivered a dose of nagging injury. 

According to reports, playing against Malone might give you memories that last a lifetime. Unfortunately, the experience also means you might come away with a shoulder injury nearly 15 years old. 

First we take you to The Dallas Morning News' Eddie Sefko, who reported on Wednesday, "On the first possession of the game, Dirk Nowitzki lobbed a pass to Samuel Dalembert for a layup, then Nowitzki grabbed his left shoulder in obvious pain."

Thanks, Dalembert. Why don't you handle your own assists next time?

Brandon Wade/Associated Press

Blame, however, should be addressed towards a former star who retired back in 2004. ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon has more on the brief bout of pain for Nowitzki: 

“The shoulder popped a little bit,” said Nowitzki, who scored 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting in 27 minutes against the Pelicans. “I’ve had it ever since Karl Malone hacked me in ’99. The shoulder sometimes just comes in and out a little bit, but it tingles for just a couple of minutes. I walked it off in the tunnel and was able to finish the game. 

“But it happened a good 20 times already over my career, so it’s going to keep happening here and there.” 

This is why we can't have nice things, Malone. 

Malone spent the better part of 19 years playing for the Utah Jazz, catching passes from John Stockton (whose hobbies included short shorts and setting picks). 

27 Mar 2000:  Karl Malone #32 of the Utah Jazz guards Dirk Nowitzki #41of the Dallas Mavericks at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Mavericks defeated the Jazz 113-105.     Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule Jr.  /Allsport
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

By the time he decided to hang up his sneakers, Malone had amassed nearly 37,000 points (good for second all time) and nearly 15,000 rebounds. 

Nowitzki doesn't reference the month, so the 35-year-old was either a rookie finding his way in the NBA, receiving hard shots from veterans welcoming him to the league, or he was a second-year player making his way in the league receiving hard shots from vets. 

In the 1999-2000 season, Nowitzki's second, the German star really got rolling, averaging 17.5 points per game all while playing in 82 games. 

The left shoulder, it seems, was doing just fine. 

Unfortunately, we haven't been able to track down the instance Nowitzki is talking about nor have we seen word from Malone. 

However, we have the statute of limitations on shoulder boo-boos at about two decades, so he has a few years to make good. 

The Mavericks ended up winning Wednesday's game against the Pelicans, 108-89. NBA.com's Jeff Caplan reports on Nowitzki's early injury: 

The 7-footer didn’t appear to hurt himself in any dramatic fashion after making a lob pass from the perimeter, but something happened as he quickly grabbed the upper part of his left arm. Nowitzki left the floor for the training room, but he did return a few minutes later and checked back into the game.

Nowitzki would finish with 18 points, five rebounds and one heck of a story, although this hardly sounds like the last we will hear of it. 

The nagging shoulder may pop a little and so will Malone's name. However, the bum shoulder hasn't exactly hindered the 12-time NBA All-Star, so we don't think it will be an issue going forward. 


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