Nowitzki Not “Done” Quite Yet
The 2011-12 NBA campaign got off to a rough start for Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki. After putting on one of the more impressive postseason displays of his career to finish off the Miami HEAT and win his first NBA championship, Nowitzki struggled through much of January before finally being shelved by head coach Rick Carlisle to nurse an ailing knee.
During that time people began questioning whether or not Dirk was really ready to defend a championship, or perhaps (taking things to the extreme) even continue his NBA career.
After struggling with his worst shooting performance since November of 2003 in Wednesday night’s 95-86 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Nowitzki has looked like a man on a mission over the past two contests.
Following that game against the up-and-coming Thunder, OKC coach Scott Brooks felt like their team had finally discovered a human version of Dirk.
“We finally found out that he was human,” Brooks said of Nowitzki. “He missed some shots but he’s a special player. He scores in so many different ways and gets to the free throw line, in the past a lot against us, and we did a pretty good job of staying down on his pump fakes. We have to do it again. He comes back and does it every game and he just had a bad game.”
Even through all the sensationalized controversy, teammates stuck by Nowitzki and still believed what he could do on the basketball court.
“I think that he has to get his rhythm back, more than anything,” teammate Vince Carter said. “I mean he sat out three games, and it’s hard to get back into game condition. That’s just the way it is. You can run anywhere all you want, when you’re out there playing on the court, it takes some getting used to. He’s getting back into it and you can put the ball in his hands a lot.”
Heading his teammate’s words, Dirk has pulverized the competition since some in the media made waves that Nowitzki may not be the man to lead the Mavericks anymore. Since the debacle against Oklahoma City, Nowitzki has averaged 27 points per over the last two games and shot over 65 percent from the floor during that span.
In Friday night’s 98-87 loss against the Indiana Pacers, Nowitzki scored a season-high 30 points and missed just five of 17 shots from the field – proving that the only eight months removed Finals MVP may just have a little bit more in the tank at 33-years old.
“Every day he’s moving better,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the season-best explosion. “At some point, this kind of game was going to be a reality. It was great to see because he was doing everything; he was shooting the ball, he was driving the ball, rebounding. Overall, he was very active – very positive.”
Through it all, Nowitzki couldn’t care less about his numbers. The only thing that matters to the Mavs’ MVP is his team’s record; which currently sits at 14-11 after three straight losses.
“I’ve never liked big numbers in a loss. Never have,” Nowitzki told ESPN Dallas. “I’ve had 50 before and we lost and it doesn’t mean anything.
“But to me it’s good to know that the leg strength is coming back, the rhythm is coming back, but like I said, it doesn’t mean anything in a loss.”
Nowitzki is barely eight months removed from outshining just about every single superstar in the NBA en route to his first NBA Title. Do national pundits really think that this is his final curtain call?
If so, they don’t know Nowitzki and they haven’t witnessed this Mavericks’ team persevere through a whole lot more last season as they went on to win the first NBA Championship in team history.
With this being said, it would be wise not to generate a convenient positive opinion about Nowitzki’s season just like those few national pundits did negatively with a small sample size of games. Nowitzki, this team and this season are all still a work in progress for these Dallas Mavericks and – as the Mavs proved last season – it only matters how this team is playing come May and June.
Let’s not judge a player or team (especially the reigning champs) two months into the season. When you start making assumptions about a team based on little-to-no actual information or actual viewing of the team and it’s games, you know what you make of yourself.
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