I was actually feeling sorry for Dirk Nowitzki over the weekend.
He is still playing at a high level, but what the Mavs have – or haven’t – done to surround him with championship-caliber talent is criminal. Since winning Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals they haven’t won a playoff series and the prospects for changing that this season are grim and none.
But on Sunday, the legend reminded me to dab the tears and postpone the funeral. Yep, he’s still got it.
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You know it’s a special game when Deron Williams’ 31-point, 16-rebound performance and Salah Mejri’s 14 rebounds and six blocked shots are the sideshows. Nowitzki has been great of late with 20+ points in eight consecutive games. But on Sunday in a frenzied American Airlines Center, he provided a game for the ages. And the aged.
With Dallas desperate for a win to increase its playoff hopes and playing without offensive threat Chandler Parsons, Nowitzki took over against the Blazers. In overtime he gave our chill bumps chill bumps with a personal 8-0 run in a dazzling 52-second span to spark the 132-120 overtime victory.
His last 3-pointer pushed him to 40 points. That’s f-o-r-t-y. Not bad for a 37-year-old.
It was vintage Dirk, and it earned him another piece of NBA history. The league’s all-time No. 6 scorer is now only the fourth player at least 37 years old to score 40 points, joining Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan and Karl Malone.
Don’t look now but Nowitzki is having his best season since 2011. Here’s hoping the Mavs give him the necessary help to get into the playoffs, somehow avoid the Warriors or Spurs, and squeeze out a first-round win.
“Never underestimate greatness at any age,” said Mavs’ head coach Rick Carlisle after the exhilarating win. “That’s what I always say about guys like him. It’s not like he’s just an older guy who happened to have a good game. He’s been doing this on a somewhat consistent basis all year, coming up with a monster game. We’ve all got to enjoy whatever time we have left to watch him, whatever number of years it is, because it’ll go by quickly. You won’t see another one like this – ever.”
I no longer feel sorry for Dirk Nowitzki -- only those who underestimate him as old and washed up.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.