With still 1.2 seconds left in regulation, some Miami crowd already started to pile out of the American Airlines Arena. Dirk Nowitzki ran off the court and went straight to the locker room. This was his biggest achievement, his ultimate dream and the MVP of the 2011 NBA finals wanted a moment… It has been five agonizing years, waiting for an opportunity like this to come. And now it has finally arrived. This is not going to be all about him and all his glory. His team deserved all the attention, their spotlight, and their glorious moment. And Dirk wanted nothing more than to savor it.
It has been a roller coaster ride throughout his 13-year career. For a lanky 7-foot German whose first attempt was an airball, all the way to a season MVP, and now a championship. There are no shortcuts. The road to greatness is narrow and deep. And it was a trip Dirk obliged to follow.
It was a slow and painful climb to the top. Everybody remembered the 2006 finals when Dirk failed to deliver the NBA championship. The next season, he won the much coveted MVP award but faltered in the first round of the play-offs against the eight seeded “We Believe” Golden State Warriors… Dirk had been in the spotlight for years and was put under heavy criticism just like the self-proclaimed King, Lebron James. The difference? James’ were self-inflicted. James broke millions of hearts in Cleveland after leaving them through his infamous on air “The Decision” bringing his talents to South Beach. And just like what he did in Cleveland, he promised Miami championships, “Not one, not two, not three…” However, on his biggest stage, when everything mattered, he choked up. Lebron will undeniably win championships, but it would never be the same with how Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki have done it—they persevered and fought all the heartaches before tasting victory. Throughout the series one thing was crystal clear: Miami would always be Dwayne Wade’s team…
Dirk never chased his championship dream elsewhere. It never crossed his mind. Dallas was his team, the team that stayed with him through all his shortcomings and all the frustrations. And it was time to return the favor.
On the crucial game and on the team’s final performance, when Dirk’s offense wasn’t really going, it was his team that carried him throughout. Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and JJ Barea all carried the load it was one way of saying that we always got your back just as you have been carrying us the whole time.
On Dirk’s biggest moment, he took a step back in the lime light. And find a place where he could savor the moment on his own—away from the celebration, away from all the critics. As tears gently rolled down his eyes, it was a sign of joy and relief. The ride has finally come to an end, the fairy tale dream that ends with a happy ever after. This victory is for Dallas… his team, and for everyone who believes.