The Dallas Mavericks are only a 40-year-old franchise in the NBA league. They had an extremely poor run in the ‘90s where they failed to reach even a single playoff. A turnaround came when businessman Mark Cuban took ownership in 2000. Since then, the team qualified for playoffs a commendable 16 times but captured the championship only once.
The greatest player that the organization gave to the league was Dirk Nowitzki. The German gave 21 years of his life to the Mavs and appeared in 15 post-seasons. There are innumerable memorable moments that his illustrious career gifted fans, but one absolutely stands out. It came when he helped the franchise win its maiden championship and then suddenly disappeared from the scene.
The Dallas Mavericks and the NBA Finals mystery
The NBA Finals 2011 was a low-scoring, tight encounter between the favorites Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks. It was almost miraculous that Dirk Nowitzki’s side defeated a team that had LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in six games. The moment the Mavericks won, their Finals MVP left the court, jumped off the scorer’s table, and rushed towards the locker room.
The mystery behind that unfathomable reaction remained unanswered until Dirk himself gave an interview to clear the air. He said, “So I’m on the court and I’m hugging my teammates and I’m completely bawling and I couldn’t stop myself. I sort of felt that same feeling coming on there in ’11, so that’s why I was like, ‘I don’t want to stand out here and hug everybody and completely be a mess.’ So I decided to run off and get a few minutes by myself.”
Two people ran behind Dirk to try to bring him back to the court. One was the NBA senior vice president of basketball communications, Tim Frank, and the other was the Mavericks vice president of basketball communications, Scott Tomlin (or Scooter, as Dirk calls him). The NBA Champion added, “Scooter and Tim were like, ‘You’ve got to come out here; they’re about to present you with the MVP.’ I remember saying, ‘I don’t want it! Give it to someone else! I need to be here. I need to be by myself.’ I think they were like, ‘Fine, we’ll give you a few minutes.’ But I remember Scooter telling me, ‘Trust me, when you lift the trophy, that is a photo that you want for the rest of your life. You don’t want to miss this.’ They were trying to talk some sense into me and I’m in this emotional state.”
Dirk Nowitzki and the road to his success
The Mavericks lost the 2006 NBA Finals against the Heat and also gave away their 67-15 record in the following year to achieve nothing; hence, it was pivotal for them to win in 2011. They managed to do this, and it was natural for Dirk to get as emotional as he did. Nowitzki was the playoffs point leader with 582 points and averaged 26 points per game in the final series.
Dirk apparently asked for another 30 minutes of solitude, but no more than 30 seconds were manageable. This was because the post-game formalities were lined up and Dirk was to be awarded the Finals MVP. To the delight of all present, Dirk managed to pull himself together and made it back to the court.