This title run was for all the skeptics, all the haters.
Suddenly, Dirk’s playoff career looks pretty good (despite the fact that he was in the middle of one of the worst choke jobs ever seen in the ’06 Finals). His career postseason numbers are still standing in that ultra-elusive 25/10 club (25.9 & 10.4) and in the ridiculous Western Conference – there were a few years where you had to win 50 games JUST TO GET in the playoffs – Dirk has led Dallas to the playoffs in 11 consecutive seasons as the unquestioned alpha dog on his team. He’s been to the WCF three times as the unquestioned leader and won twice. As the alpha leader, Kevin Garnett made it there once. In all his years, Barkley also did that just one time as an alpha (Barkley also consistently choked away big leads or lost early in the playoffs, but we won’t get into that since everyone loves him now).
Who’s the second-best player Dirk ever played with? Jason Terry? Josh Howard (until he went Ricky Williams)? Michael Finley? Steve Nash (who is probably still quietly thanking Cuban that he let him go or else we would’ve always seen Nash as the second-coming of Mark Price rather than comparing him to the Glove, Stockton and Kidd)?
Who would’ve ever thought six months ago that you could win a title riding Dirk’s back, with maybe your second-best player out (Caron Butler), help from the Tyrion Lannister of bench players (J.J. Barea), Abe Lincoln, a former All-Star who always had an overinflated opinion of himself (Shawn Marion), Rick Carlisle as your coach and an entire bench (outside of the JET) who has done NOTHING in the NBA (except for Peja, but he doesn’t count anymore)?
Five years ago, ESPN rated Dirk as the 10th best power forward ever. As Tim Legler said today on Mike And Mike In The Morning, Dirk has since jumped Buck Williams, Dave Debusschere and probably Kevin McHale, Elvin Hayes and Bob Pettit:
Dirk Nowitzki: 22,792 points, 8,315 rebounds, career 48/38/88 shooting percentages, 1 title, 1 Finals MVP, 1 MVP, rep for being one of the greatest clutch shooters of all-time, 41,000+ minutes, 10-time All-Star, 11 All-NBA Teams (four first teams)
Kevin Garnett: 23,323 points, 12,819 rebounds, 48,000+ minutes, 14 All-Star games, 1 title, 1 MVP, 1 DPOY, 9 All-NBA teams (four first teams), 11 All-NBA Defensive teams, rep as one of the greatest defensive big men ever, a six-year prime where he never averaged fewer than 22/11/5
Charles Barkley: 23,757 points, 12,546 rebounds, 44,000+ minutes, 9 All-Star games, 1 MVP, 11 All-NBA Teams (five first teams), rep for being one of the greatest rebounders ever, 12-straight seasons with PER of at least 22.4, six-year prime where he put up around 25/12/4
Bob Pettit: 20,880 points, 12,849 rebounds, 1 title, 2 MVPs, 11-time All-Star, 11 All-NBA teams (10 first teams), 2-time scoring champ, career 26-16 averages, PER never lower than 22.6
Karl Malone: 36,928 points, 14,968 rebounds, 62,000+ minutes, 13-straight seasons with PER of at least 22.9, 12-time All-Star, 2 MVPs, 14 All-NBA teams (11 straight first teams), 4 All-NBA defensive teams
Kevin McHale: 17,335 points, 7,122 rebounds, 3 titles, 7-time All-Star, 2-time Sixth Man of the Year, 1 All-NBA First Team, 6 All-NBA Defensive teams, rep as one of the best all-around post players ever
Elvin Hayes: 27,313 points, 16,279 rebounds, 1,171 blocks, 1 title, 12-time All-Star, 6 All-NBA teams (three first teams), rep as one of the greatest defensive big men ever