In an era where “selfish” superstars dominate the NBA, where superstars get what they want and earn millions of dollars every year, an unassuming superstar stands out as probably one of the most loyal players in sports today. Dirk Nowitzki tweeted a few weeks ago that he bled blue. This was after a fan questioned him on whether he would follow suit and join a super team. Dirk just doesn’t seem the type to join another team with already proven superstars and after his 2011 championship, I think Dirk will be even more inclined to end his career with the Dallas Mavericks.
His time with Dallas hasn’t always been roses and he has shared a few heartbreaking moments in his career. Before his amazing run in the 2011 playoffs, Dirk was often called a playoff choker by fans and even some analysts joined in on the fray. Dirk always raised his game in the playoffs, but despite that, his playoff failures from 2006-2010 netted him the choker moniker. His 2011 run then would be the affirmation that he does belong in the top list of great players in NBA history. After his first championship, fans and media alike finally respected Nowitzki’s greatness and have since been included in one of the greatest big men lists.
I know I’ll get flack for this but I think Nowitzki’s championship run in 2011 was even more impressive than that of LeBron James last year. While LeBron finally won his first title after three tries, the fact that Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh was there kind of cheapens the win. Meanwhile Dirk’s best player in his championship run was Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and an over-the-hill Jason Kidd. That’s not to take anything away from James’ impressive championship run, but Dirk winning his title with his original team just seems that much sweeter after over a decade of pain and sacrifices.
Dirk has always been professional throughout his career as well. A few years ago, Dirk was involved in a controversial scandal with the grifter Cristal Taylor. The controversy unfortunately coincided with the playoffs, but he was still able to play well and averaged 26.8 points and 10.1 rebounds in the playoffs. He has also remained grounded and humble and is soft-spoken and down-to-earth with his fans.
Dirk is a dying breed of superstar in the sense that his game speaks for himself and he has proven time and time again that he will do whatever it takes to win and play the game he loves with the team that gave him a chance. Dirk may not be the best player in the world. He may not be as versatile as a LeBron, or as entertaining and controversial as a Kobe Bryant, but who he is is absolutely fine to the many fans that absolutely respect him.