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Dirk Nowitzki excited after busy summer

Dirk Nowitzki in better condition entering the Dallas Mavericks' training camp this season

Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

After a busy a summer during which he got married, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki says he has a renewed commitment to fitness after a disappointing 2011-12 lockout-shortened season for which he showed up out of shape, writes NBA.com's Fran Blinebury.

Now a season removed from leading the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA championship, the 34-year-old Nowitzki enters the 2012-13 campaign saying he's in better condition than last year, when Dallas finished seventh in the Western Conference and were eliminated in the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team made Nowitzki sit out for four games at one point last year to improve his conditioning, something Nowitzki says he took to heart:

"For me, actually, it was a great lesson to learn," Nowitzki said. "I can't just shut it down all the way to zero anymore and expect to be in shape in four weeks. You can do that when you're in your 20s, but not after 14 years in the league.

"So even though it was a tough year for me last year, I think it was a good learning experience for me, and this year, in the summer, even though I didn't touch a ball for 3 ½ months, I was basically in the gym in June and July keeping my legs strong, running."

The Mavericks will likely have three new starters and eight new members to the roster this season, and Nowitzki says he's excited to see what the team can accomplish:

"We've got a lot of potential," Nowitzki said. "We got some shot-makers. We got some penetrators. We got, for the first time, somebody we can just drop the ball to down on the block and everybody else spaces out. I can space out and not always get the ball every time.

"Where we're going to end up, I have no idea. The West is stacked, especially at the top. So it's going to be tough to crack that top two or three up there."

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.