“All the people that were rooting me on to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before.” – LeBron James
I think this quote says it all. And with that, I will not speak of or mention LeBron James again in this article. All of the attention has been on the Miami Heat and their putrid 4th quarter execution and many in the media have spent little time talking about the real story: The Dallas Mavericks winning their first NBA Championship in their history and Dirk Nowitzki engraving his name into NBA greatness.
Obviously, Dirk has the individual stats and accolades that caught every NBA fan’s attention. He’s been named to 4 All-NBA First Teams, has made 10 All-Star appearances, and was the League’s MVP in 2007, but up until yesterday Dirk was missing that one special accomplishment that separates the very good players from the great players, and NBA Championship. Dirk added that NBA Championship to his resume last night, along with the Finals MVP trophy. Dirk was absolutely unconscious throughout the playoffs and especially late in games, shutting the door on the opposition time and time again. We all thought he couldn’t play any better, but once again Dirk stepped his game up to another level in the Finals, averaging 26 points and close to 10 rebounds a game while shooting a ridiculous 98% from the charity stripe. He shot daggers into the hearts of the Heat, averaging 11 points in the 4th quarters alone. Game 6 exemplified just how great Dirk is. He struggled mightily in the first half, going 1 for 12 from the field. But Dirk battled back and kept shooting, kept attacking. He finished the game hitting 9 of 27 shots from the field for a total of 21 points, 8 for 15 in the second half, with 11 of those points coming in the decisive 4th quarter. The great ones know how to close out games, no matter if they’re struggling early on or locked in from the start. The 4th quarter is a different animal, and Dirk definitely showed that he has that killer instinct.
Now that Nowitzki has the ever so coveted NBA CHampionship under his belt we can finally start throwing his name into the conversation for one of the best power forwards in NBA history. I have no doubt in my mind that he stacks right up there with All-Time power forwards such as Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Elvin Hayes, Kevin Garnett, and probably the best of them all, Tim Duncan. Dirk is a transcendent player, and it’s time that he is given the respect and admiration he so strongly deserves.
The Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat will meet once again in the 2011 NBA Finals, a rematch of the 2006 Finals. Dwyane Wade, with the help of Shaquille O’Neal, won the first meeting between the two, coming back from a 2-0 series deficit to give the Heat their first NBA Championship. Dirk and veteran Mavs are looking for some revenge this time around. This is going to be a matchup of stars, as Dirk will face-off against the Heat’s BIG 3 of D-Wade, LBJ, and Chris Bosh. I look for this to be a very entertaining series, going at least 6 games and wouldn’t be surprised if either team wins it.
Here’s a breakdown of the matchups and who I think holds the edge in each category:
Coaching – Mavs
Defense – Heat
Offense – Push
Bench – Mavs
Prediction – Personally, I don’t like the Heat or Lebron James, but I respect and enjoy greatness and Lebron and D-Wade certainly exemplify both. Dirk has been the Playoff MVP thus far, in my opinion, and the Mavs definitely have the bench edge over the Heat, but the sheer talent and athletic ability of the Heat will prove to be too much for the Mavs. I have the Heat winning in 7 games.