Monday, June 13, 2011

Dirk Nowitzki Took His Talents To South Beach, Left As MVP

The Dallas Mavericks blew a 2-0 series lead to the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals, something that has haunted the team's seven-foot superstar ever since.

Five years later, an even more formidable Miami Heat team stood in his way, with two of the three best basketball players on the planet in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

And he outplayed them both.

Miami was the better team in the first five games of the series. The reason Dallas was able to hang on was pure toughness in the 4th quarter, with Dirk averaging more than 10 points per game in the final period. And after starting 1 for 12 from the field in Game 6, he depleted whatever fight the Heat had left by hitting his impossible shots down the stretch.

Charles Barkley and countless other NBA analysts have called Nowitzki "unguardable." But the term didn't really resonate until this postseason. He led the Mavericks to a 16-5 record against the Blazers, Lakers, Thunder and Heat. Let that number sink in for a second. 16-5.

Even with all the stars on the court Sunday night, there was no question who the best player was in the playoffs: Dirk Nowitzki.

Now that he adds an NBA championship and Finals MVP to a regular season MVP and 11-straight 50-win seasons, where does that put him on the list of all-time greats? Jeff Van Gundy proclaimed Dirk one of the 10 best even before Dallas won the conference title.

Doesn't sound so crazy now, does it?

Also, congratulations to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the best in professional sports and one of my favorite public figures.

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