Following the Mavericks’ 2006 loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, Dwayne Wade somewhat famously quipped, in response to the controversy surrounding a number of calls during the series, that the loss could be blamed on Dirk Nowitzki--that he “wasn’t the leader he’s supposed to be in the closing moments.”
Obviously, that wasn’t the case this year.
Dirk led the Mavericks to their first NBA Championship, a journey that culminated in a vindicating Game 6, series-clinching victory in Miami on Sunday night. He fought through illness and injury on his way to the NBA Finals MVP, and his fourth quarter performances in this Finals will no doubt go down as the stuff of legend in Dallas and around the NBA.
It was a performance that, for one thing, earned the praise of the aforementioned Wade.
“I think he’s played awesome, man,” Wade said, per ESPN Dallas. “Obviously Dirk, five years ago, it burned in him. He learned from that experience.
“Even though he was 1-for-12 in the first half, he came out and made big shots for his team. He kept being aggressive, kept shooting. So there’s no question he’s been a great individual player, and now that he’s a champion, it goes without saying what it does for his career. So congratulations to him.”