Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki remembers what happened in 2006.
It has haunted him ever since as he waited for his chance to redeem himself. He never imagined he would get against his nemesis from South Florida.
Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade remembers it too. It is his only ring and the thing that seems to give him some clout over presumptive “Best Player in the NBA” LeBron James. But he has not looked like the champion throughout the 2011 NBA Finals. Nowitzki has taken over as the star of stars in this series.
These NBA Finals have been a statement for Nowitzki that he is ready to become a household name and champion. The season has been about following the Heat and figuring out whether LeBron James, Wade and Chris Bosh’s grand experiment will work. The focus and criticism of the entire season has been trying to dissect every move they make.
Unfairly, the Heat have been held to a standard of perfection. Clearly though, Miami is not as good as they seemed to think when they partied at their introduction at American Airlines Arena in July. So one thing the Heat could not do is underestimate their opponents.
That appears to be what Dwyane Wade has been doing in thinking back to the Dirk Nowitzki of 2006 and playing the Mavericks.
Wade and James were caught mocking Dirk Nowitzki’s illness from Game Four during an off-day shootaround. Whether that annoyed Nowitzki enough to go for 29 points in Game Five is a question you will have to ask him — and he will likely deny. But let’s just say you do not want to do anything to make Nowitzki angry right now as he has taken over as the best player in this series.
It would appear that Nowitzki knows this could be his chance to correct one of the biggest failures in his career.
“Let’s clarify something, America: This was always a rematch, no matter how much the rosters have turned over, since it reunited two stars from the respective franchises who’ve had an icy relationship ever since the Miami comeback/Dallas collapse in ’06.
“Or have you already forgotten the All-Star Game in 2007 when Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki were the only two starters on the floor in Las Vegas who didn’t even bump fists?
“But I was actually gullible enough to believe, as well as I remember D-Wade versus Dirk at full chill, that the way Nowitzki has played this postseason would quash some of the Heat hubris we’ve seen since July, when they staged their infamous laser-light show to celebrate the signings of LeBron James and Chris Bosh as a championship unto itself.”
By Stein’s report, it sure seems like Wade and Nowitzki have a quietly growing feud that has festered since that 2006 Finals series. And Nowitzki has stepped up and delivered with 27.0 points per game, plus a couple of game-winning shots.
My advice to Wade and the Heat down 3-2, don’t think this is the 2006 edition and be ready for a battle or else Dallas is going to be winning the championship on your home floor.
Photo via DayLife.com.