With the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics out of the playoffs, Pacers president Larry Bird does not deny that he's pulling for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

That's mostly because of his longtime friendship with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, but also because Bird is an unabashed fan of Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki.

"I've always admired the guy," Bird said.

"He's had a great run (in the playoffs), but I've always been very impressed with him," Bird said. "His work ethic, his loyalty to his country. It's really an honor for me to have people compare us.

"He rebounds. He plays at his own pace. He sort of controls the tempo on offense. It'd be nice to be 7 foot and when they run plays and switch (defenders) on him, it doesn't bother him at all. He can see over everybody.

"He's got the step-backs. He gets to the rim. The difficulty of some of the shots that he makes ... one thing about him is that he's always got great balance. His shot looks like he's falling away, but he's got a lot of balance when the shot goes up.
"I understand (the comparisons). I've always felt it's an honor when they compare anyone to me, because I haven't played ball for 20 years."