NBA / Jun 13, 2011 / 3:15 pm

Dirk: And Then There Was One

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki (photo. Nike Basketball)

My NBA fanhood boils down to a series of moments. Michael Jordan‘s shove of Bryon Russell. Allan Houston‘s Game 5 floater against the Heat to send the Knicks to the second round of the ’99 playoffs. LeBron James‘ 48 points against Detroit in Game 5 of the ’07 playoffs. The Kobe to Shaq alley-oop in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals. The Ron Artest Game 7 three-pointer in last years’ NBA Finals, followed by a ceremonial salute to his therapist.

Of course these aren’t the only memorable moments to transpire over the past 13 years, but they’re the ones that stick out to me. They’re the ones that replay in my head when I reminisce. I can recall where I was, the emotions, the movements, everything. In 1999, I was parked on my bed, eating a box of Wheat Thins as was my go-to, childhood snack ritual. My love of the game stemmed more from a starstruck demeanor than any particular appreciation of the inner workings of basketball. When Houston nailed that shot, of course I was happy. My brother and father had bred me to become a diehard Knicks fan. But watching Houston run down the court, furiously throwing his fist through the air in celebration, showed me something I was otherwise oblivious to. These players cared just as much as I did. They weren’t merely manifestations of the N64 games I religiously played. Happiness, frustration, disappointment and satisfaction were all a part of my youth basketball leagues, so why couldn’t they exist in the NBA?

When Dirk savagely cut the heart out of Oklahoma City in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, I knew I had witnessed one of those moments. Some of my friends had just moved into a new apartment – the television was on the floor and we were sitting on alarmingly uncomfortable wooden chairs. But Dirk’s inspiring play lessened my discomfort because everyone around me knew what was happening. Is this for real? We knew Dirk was great, but he had never displayed that extra gear. The one that heightens your sensitivity to your every surrounding. After the comeback was complete, we sat in stunned silence. The room was pulling for Oklahoma City, but no one was pissed about what had happened. In 10 minutes, Dirk was beginning to carve out a new place for his legacy.

But one moment is not enough to define a career. No matter how many times I relive throwing my Wheat Thins-filled hand in the air, it won’t elevate Houston to Hall of Fame status. It takes a compilation of legendary moments or a transcendent playoff performance culminating in an NBA Championship. After Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, we knew that the latter was possible. The former, however, is hardly possible. For the past 13 years, Dirk’s career has essentially passed us by without anyone noticing. As analysts, we constantly preach consistency. And that’s exactly what Dirk has provided. Eleven 50-win seasons, at least 23.0 points per game for seven straight years and an unchanging, ever-deadly jump shot. Throughout his NBA journey, we’ve known what we’re getting with Dirk. Not outstanding, but just on the cusp. That’s why we’re enamored with the Kobes, D-Wades and LeBrons of the NBA. They may not be as consistent, but they’re capable of the unthinkable. Just when we think we’ve figured them out, they take it to a whole new level of absurdity.

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  • BRUCE

    Rashard Lewis stole Lebron mojo!

  • karmatic

    no, dirk beat lebron with teammates who were paid $24 million more this year than lebron’s teammates, which means dirk had a little more help. the addition of tyson chandler this year was such a brilliant complement to dirk that other teams with a ‘dirk-like’ player (ie andrea bargnani) are gonna try to copycat. rick carlisle and his staff did an amazing job. those are 3 big assists to “dirk” getting it done this year that cannot be overlooked or undervalued. but yeah, it was still a hell of a lot of fun to watch them do it.

  • AZ

    Know what I like better than bron losing……his fans reaching and clawing for an excuse to justify his finals appearance.

  • SayItAintSo

    @AZ

    Couldn’t! Agree! More!

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    I think it says a lot that even after winning a title, after stopping the 2 time Champion Lakers, after beating the scoring Champ, and after beating 3 Next Big Things (Blazers, Thunder, Heat), there are still plenty of people that want to bring him down.

    I’m finally beginning to get why Kobe’s defenders in the media and on these forums feel so maligned. He’s a great player. He’s won the Big Game. What else can he do? He’s an all-time great, and that stands on its own.

  • http://www.lakernation.com smoove chips

    @ dagwaller.

    Amen.We hope other bball fans come to your same conclusion because at times you hear the most outrageous shit bout Kobe and mafukaz will say it with a straight face like it’s gospel.

    Congrats mavs.We coming to take back our shit next year.

    Sincerily,
    Lakernation

  • LakeShow84

    LAL/DAL next year is going to be a war..

    dont forget they didnt have CARON BUTLER and Haywood went down early.. plus that rookie Beabouis or whatever his name is solid..

    DAL should be favored to win it all next year too.. Ill give them their due until someone knocks them off..

  • LakeShow84

    And MAD PROPS goto Dirk..

    Probably the most HATED ON superstar all due to his skin color..

    And before this Finals how many people actuallly called Dirk a SUPERSTAR???? not too many and that says something about the hate he endures..

    i couldnt have named a more deserving player besides, ironically, Steve Nash who deserved it more..

  • SolaC

    I don’t see how Steve Nash deserved it more, but Dirk’s the victim of the big-man syndrome. That, and his humble demeanor doesn’t make great TV (people want entertainment, and Dirk’s personality, well… isn’t entertaining).

    Congrats to Dirk. Followed the Mavs since Dick Motta days and I feel Dirk deserved a ring. Guaranteed Hall of Fame before, now just further solidifies his impact in the game.

  • SoulChorea

    DYLAN MURPHY deserves a raise/promotion. Consistently bringing the fire on these articles, my dude…great stuff.

  • omegafab

    mavs played REAL basketball. the basketball we all learned to play when we were younger. they played the game how it should be played. everyone needs to stop bagging on lbj and start giving dirk and the mavs their cred. the heat didnt lose it, the mavs took it from them.

  • OneZero

    never compare Lebron with Wade and especially Kobe, ever ever.

  • JDish

    @ LakeShow83

    “Probably the most HATED ON superstar all due to his skin color”

    I don’t think skin color is the reason Dirk gets hated on my friend. The article accurately explains why he’s hated on, Dirk is not a controvercial basketball player. The guy rather is humble and just play’s the game. He’s also not a big time athletic bball player, his game is more of a basketball fundamentals based type, and his shooting is his greatest weapon. The NBA is about entertainment and business. The NBA wants to attract the basketball audience and not bore it. Gave the basketball junkies and weekend warriors what they want and they will pay for it. Dirk Nowitzki is not a basketball player that attracts very much attention with his game, but he gets it done on the floor.

  • JDish

    correction

    “@ LakeShow84″