MIAMI — 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.
Shaq 'about to retire'
BOSTON — He was a prolific producer of rebounds and record albums. And nicknames, too, as if at 7-foot-1 and 350 pounds he was too big for the simple "Shaq" that made him an instantly recognizable, one-name star in all of his endeavors.
Shaquille O'Neal had more than 28,000 points and almost 4 million Twitter followers. He appeared in six NBA finals, three times as the MVP, and seven feature films, twice in a starring role.
A 15-time All-Star, four-time champion and the 2000 NBA Most Valuable Player, Shaquille O'Neal announced his retirement on Twitter on Wednesday after spending most of his 19th season on the Boston Celtics bench, in street clothes because of leg injuries.
Along with a mid-afternoon tweet saying, "im retiring," O'Neal included a link to a 16-second video of him saying, "We did it; 19 years, baby. Thank you very much. That's why I'm telling you first: I'm about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon."
An inveterate prankster who gave himself a new nickname — or several — in each of his six NBA cities, O'Neal did not notify his latest team, leaving it wondering about his plans. He played just 37 games this season, the first of a two-year deal at the veteran's minimum salary, making just three brief appearances after Feb. 1.