Some believed that Nowitzki slyly called out Parsons while raving about the work ethic of new Mavs small forward Harrison Barnes.
"There's been tons of guys that told me that they were gym rats and I've never seen them in the gym at nights, but this guy is constantly in here, mornings and nights," Nowitzki said of Barnes at media day, which was similar to his comments the previous week on his new teammate. "He wants to be great."
Nowitzki seemed surprised when told that the comments were being perceived as a verbal version of a subtweet of Parsons. He was adamant that he was speaking of his experience over 18 NBA seasons, not specifically thinking of Parsons.
But Nowitzki, whose friendship with Parsons features a constant exchange of trash talk, couldn't resist taking a playful jab.
"He knew he wasn't a gym rat. He never said he was!" Nowitzki joked to ESPN on Friday, laughing as he jogged up the stairs from the Mavs' practice court.
Parsons, who signed a max deal with the Memphis Grizzlies after the Mavs declined to make him a long-term offer due to concerns about his knee, wasn't about to let Nowitzki get the last word.
Parsons' text reply to ESPN: "Dirk is getting pretty old, so he was probably asleep when I was in the gym."