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Dirk Nowitzki says Harrison Barnes ‘walks the walk’ with his work ethic

Nowitzki talked about how much he loved Barnes’ workhorse attitude in the gym, and you can’t help but think which players didn’t live up to Dirk’s standards.

NBA: Playoffs-Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Although we’ve had decidedly mixed emotions about Harrison Barnes’ arrival in Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki seems unabashedly excited about his new teammate.

He gave an interview on 105.3 The Fan earlier this week during which he spoke highly of Barnes’ work ethic and dedication (if you’re also interested in Dirk’s thoughts on soccer, tennis, and raising trilingual children, the full audio is available here):

And Tim MacMahon shared this quote yesterday (emphasis added):

Dirk is the consummate teammate, and while he probably didn’t intend to call out anyone in particular, these quotes serve as a reminder that the last few years haven’t been the smoothest for Dallas in terms of personnel and turnover.

And while not everyone the team brought in worked out quite as poorly as Rajon Rondo or O.J. Mayo, who recently earned a two-year suspension from the NBA, the conversation around the Mavericks’ last major free agent acquisition Chandler Parsons was often much more negative. The narrative focused on his unusually (for the Mavs) public dispute with Rick Carlisle over his weight and fitness or the fact that he was only able to join the tea because of Nowitzki’s massive financial sacrifice.

Before the start of the 2015 season, Dirk expressed optimism about Parsons’ versatility, but also offered some prescient advice for the younger star:

Parsons, of course, would not stick around as the long-term “franchise guy” the Mavericks were hoping for when they asked Dirk to take a massive pay cut.

It certainly sounds like the low-key, hard-working Barnes is a welcome change for Nowitzki, or perhaps it’s just easier to feel optimistic about your team when you’re getting paid. Either way, it’s nice to see Dirk excited about his new teammate.