Legends become legends when they need to — enter Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t going to let Dallas lose Wednesday night — not the team, the owner, the fan base, any of it. Much of it has to do with the team genuinely feeling kicked in the shins by DeAndre Jordan spurning them. Mark Cuban feels it, too. So does the fan base.

No, Jordan didn’t commit a crime in going back to the Clippers, but you learn before you hit middle school that your word is important, and it’s about all they lay you down with in the end.

But enough of that.

The hardest thing in sports to do either as a player or a fan is to watch a legend at the end of the line. If you play any sports, that moment where it hits you that you’ve lost the ability no matter what you do to perform the way you used to is a hard one.

As a fan, it’s not as hard, but it still sucks.

One day, Dirk Nowitzki will be at that point. Not tonight.

This was the 2007 version of big Dirk, who shot 11-14 (which is absurd) and banked in a three with around a minute left that put the Los Angeles Clippers away and put to rest some wounds that aren’t overly important in the standings, but are in the heart.

Dallas needed this, especially after being paddled by New Orleans the night prior. Wes Matthews was unbelievable. Zaza Pachulia was his miserable, physical, ornery self. Rick Carlisle was as well. Going into the fourth quarter, he did an interview with some ESPN honk and was asked about not hacking Jordan. He noted that the game wasn’t over.

That was the strategy, and Jordan played into their hands just fine, hitting only two all quarter and forcing himself to be substituted out.

Still, it was Nowitzki that was the catalyst. He couldn’t miss, not from the field, not from the line. He had the whole arsenal available.

In 2004 while playing for the Arizona Cardinals, Emmitt Smith ran for 127 yards against New Orleans. It was a rising from the dead moment for a great who was on the way out.

That isn’t Dirk. He’s not on the way out. He walked off the floor without acknowledging anyone unless forced on his path to the locker room. The battle lines clearly were drawn.

Superman speaks German, and it’s not wise to tug on his cape, no matter if he’s pushing 40 or not. The greats rise when they need to.

Now, Mark, can we release the texts?

Follow us on Twitter @CrossoverNBA