Brian Cardinal took one look at Dirk Nowitzki’s injured finger, turned to the Dallas Mavericks’ trainer and recommended his treatment plan.
“Cut it at the knuckle,” Cardinal said, making a scissors motion with his right hand. “Like Ronnie Lott.”
Good thing “Dr.” Cardinal is a backup forward whose specialty is comic relief.
Nowitzki’s injury was more source of fun than concern Wednesday, starting from the moment he woke up. He expected the torn tendon at the tip of his left middle finger to be sore and throbbing and it wasn’t either.
So only the devilish teasers were even considering a Lott-like amputation of his fingertip.
Nowitzki took the practice court wearing a splint to keep the finger straight and figures it’ll be mostly a nuisance for the next month or two. He and shooting coach Holger Geschwindner were planning their own workout later Wednesday to see which moves Nowitzki can and can’t make and to come up with ways to compensate, starting with Game 2 of the NBA finals against the Miami Heat on Thursday night.
“Hey, (Rajon) Rondo played with one arm, so he might be able to play with nine fingers,” Geschwindner said, smiling.
Nowitzki already is experimenting with different bandages. Trainer Casey Smith said, “We’re going to make it as small as we can,” and indeed Nowitzki’s wrap at the start of practice was smaller than what he had at a news conference a few minutes before. He was down to a hard splint under the knuckle at the tip of his left middle finger, held on by strips of white tape. The bandage looped around the knuckle and tip, leaving the nail and top exposed.
Nowitzki was hurt trying to strip the ball from Chris Bosh with a little under 4 minutes left in the opener. He knew something serious was wrong because he couldn’t straighten the tip. The injury is known as a “mallet finger” and generally takes six to eight weeks to heal.
With only quick, courtside treatment, Nowitzki managed to his 1 of 2 shots and all four free throws after the incident. He was 6 of 16 while healthy.
Because the problem is on Nowitzki’s non-shooting hand, most of what he does will not be affected.
But some of his game will be.
He likes to drive to his left, dribbling hard to get to his favorite shooting spots or taking it all the way to the rim. It also could affect him on defense.