Watching And Not Watching Dirk Nowitzki

In 2011, Dirk Nowitzki gave everyone who cares about the NBA something they did not dare expect. He, and those Mavericks, gave some people even more than that.
Share |

Dirk Nowitzki has a 102 degree fever. He is wrung out, his body visibly flagging. During timeouts, his team huddles together but he slumps into a cocoon of towels and warmup shirts, retreating to this fort during stoppages and playing in a fugue state. He struggles. His characteristically accurate jumpers clank short off the rim. He withers against the physicality of his opponents, the burden of sickness is palpably, crushingly too much. Well, for a while.

With under a shot clock’s worth of time left in the game, Nowitzki surprises both his teammates and his opponents, knifing through and under a pair of defenders to seal a Mavericks win with a geometrically ambitious layup. For all the typical aesthetic soundness of the two teams involved, this game -- Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals -- was a brutal affair. Neither squad broke 90 points; LeBron James didn’t even score 10. It looked like a game between two teams approaching the limits of stamina, which it actually was. It looked a game swollen with significance and scaled up through absolute effort to the point that whatever team lost would be broken under the weight. This also turned out to be true and the Heat never recovered. It was, in retrospect, maybe Dirk Nowitzki’s opus: an ersatz masterpiece pulled from the depths of exhaustion, a performance big enough and great enough to sink a superteam.

***

The next afternoon, my cousin Anna died. She was 18, and had been diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma two years prior. It’s a brutal disease, a bone cancer that afflicts children and almost always wins. She pushed it back into whatever craven genetic hole it hid in for over a year, and for that cruelly abrupt time it seemed... well, not okay, but less horrifying. I remember nervously fumbling for the phone every few months to hear the results of her latest scans. They came up clear for a while.

But all it took was that one scan that found a trace of a metastasized tumor in an inoperable area and that was it. Agonizing as those last few months were, she made them count as well as she possibly could have. She made friends with Andy Hull and Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, who wrote her a four-page letter.

She and her family lived in Dallas and had attended Mavericks games for years. They were there for most of Nowitzki’s formative years as a superstar and had thrown themselves headlong into Mavs fandom. During Anna’s last months, she met Tyson Chandler, Steve Nash, Dirk, and the rest of the gang. That wristband Chandler’s rocking in the title parade? It’s the same one I have with her name inscribed in it. Mark Cuban donated $75K to the 1 Million 4 Anna foundation that her parents set up to fund Ewing’s Sarcoma research. People talk about sports creating change in an abstract sense, but the Mavs had a measurable, direct impact on her life. That mattered.

Anna’s disease started to get greedy right as the 2011 playoffs started and things became desperate in a way they’d never been before. A pervasive helplessness swamped us, and the inevitable sunk in. You flail and look for something strong to hold to, and for me, in that moment, that was the Mavericks. My headspace was a toxic miasma of guilt and frustration, and the simplicity of basketball made sense in a concreate and very necessary way. She loved the Mavericks and if the Mavericks won, she would be happy, even if in a fleeting way. This is desperate logic, but it was better than nothing.

And so Dallas’ wacky march to the sun began. The gravity of Dirk Nowitzki held that 2011 squad together in a way that the presence of a superstar rarely does. Good teams orient themselves around a few elite players who don’t have overlapping skillsets or can ably play pass-the-mic on the perimeter. Dirk’s fellow Mavericks in the post-Nash years have all revolved around him like planets. He is the Higgs-Boson of Dallas; the laws of physics allow the Mavs to exist only because of his presence. Dallas’ second most important player that year, Tyson Chandler, did exactly everything Dirk didn’t do -- things like body dudes on the block, which liberated Dirk even further from the dreary obligations of his height. The team was a precise constellation of talent, and a delicate one. Everything held, somehow, through the playoffs.

The timing of this couldn’t have been better, and I allowed myself to believe in the biologically dubious line of thinking that if the Mavericks kept winning, everything else in Dallas would be less bleak. When the Mavs swept through the Lakers, it started to feel special for the first time. It’s silly in a sad way, but cold rationality was poison for me under the circumstances. I wanted to believe that winning would make my dying cousin happy. I think it did.

Anyway, this is no place for cold rationality. There was nothing cold or rational about Dirk Nowitzki scoring 48 points on 15 shots against the Thunder. If Game 4 of the Finals was Dirk’s most openly grandiose and grotesque salvo, Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals was his most virtuosic. The Mavericks erased the Thunder’s “Youth in Revolt” narrative in five games, and although they were all close, the outcome felt something like certain the whole series. It felt like destiny, and it felt good. I was consumed.

On June 12, the Dallas Mavericks won the Finals. That Year 1 Superfriendz squad in Miami was allegedly post-everything -- post-coach, post-big man, post-draft -- but they were overrun by a far more orthodox Dallas team. It was a Finals of past versus future, and the future was put to bed for another year. My family went to American Airlines Center in Dallas and watched Game 6 on the Jumbotron. They were there to count the final seconds of a bittersweet victory that Anna missed by just four days.

That Mavericks team did what it set out to do, and what I’d imagined they had to do and dreamed they might do, but it came too late. I took it as a tribute. The victory was painful in that sense, but it still closed the loop in the best way possible. The narrative to which I clung so hungrily achieved the happy ending I wrote for it, but not without cruelly deflecting away at the last moment.

That messiness doesn’t it make any less significant though. Cancer is savage, but the Mavericks helped all of us find ourselves again and see something brighter than we otherwise would have, and more quickly than we otherwise would have otherwise. In a truly terrible situation, Dallas’ championship was the most meaningful and uplifting collective experience for a family that desperately needed one. They were playing for their own reasons, of course, but also these were Anna’s Mavs, and they won.

***

Three years later, the Mavs are a much different and smaller team, but they’re still anchored around Dirk Nowitzki. He is older, less explosive but he hasn’t lost any of his idiosyncratic pragmatism. Time smoothes all wrinkles but Dirk is still and stubbornly about as jaunty and dangerous as he ever was. The team around him is a more homely iteration of those 2011 champions, Monta Ellis excepted, but they still make just as much sense.

The 2014 Mavericks are probably going to lose to the Spurs in the first round, and losing to the Spurs is like losing to time or entropy. Dirk overcame Miami and their prickly excellence, but even he can’t last forever. He made a moment, and those of us who remember it fondly will hold on to it tight, but moments pass on.

You know all this. But I think you should watch him. Watch him now. Watch him spin, whirl, and shoot. Watch him evade time, howl at the moon, and not go to sleep. Watch him not make sense, and achieve that strange harmony only he can reach. Watch him and make of him as much as you can, as much as you need or want. Do this while all this beauty is still here to watch.


Share |

Comments

The site is looking piece ostentatious and it gets the guests eyes. Outline is really basic and a decent easy to use interface. bollywood trailer

I've perused some well done here. Certainly worth bookmarking for returning to. I shock the amount of exertion you put to make such an extraordinary educational site. Bucket list

Much thanks to you for some other enlightening site. The spot else might just I understand that sort of data written in such an immaculate system? I have an endeavor that I am basically now running on, and I've been at the look out for such data. Buy weed online

This is highly informatics, crisp and clear. I think that everything has been described in systematic manner so that reader could get maximum information and learn many things. auto leasen

I felt very happy while reading this site. This was really very informative site for me. I really liked it. This was really a cordial post. Thanks a lot!. wauw kinderkleding

I haven’t any word to appreciate this post.....Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post it was a great human..thanks for shared this with us. Mike Souheil

I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post. Now you make it easy for me to understand and implement the concept. Thank you for the post. gokkengokkasten

I know your expertise on this. I must say we should have an online discussion on this. Writing only comments will close the discussion straight away! And will restrict the benefits from this information. leovegas.xyz

This is very educational content and written well for a change. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post! casino info

right here at Galaxy integrated you get YouTube perspectives of the highest first-rate at a built-inmakeup fee - honestly cozy for your channel! Our extraordbuiltintegrated provider will help you promote your video and higher rank it. buy Youtube perspectives has built-in been this smooth. YouTube Views kaufen

Welcome to shop for automated likes for instagram or twitter ! impress buddies and appeal to more traffic with the aid of having automatic likes immediately to your new pics and content which you share ! Our device mechanically tests your profile for new posts and as soon as determined it's going to automatically start receiving likes . Automatic likes

I truly cherished perusing your web journal. It was extremely very much created and straightforward. Not at all like different sites I have perused which are truly not that good.Thanks alot! Wish Promo Code 2018

a totally gifted escort, but very competitively priced and reasonably-priced on the subject of cash. The Glasgow escort guarantees a fulfilling experience: one that we guarantee you’ve never experienced before. glasgow escort

PSN was originally conceived for the PlayStation video game consoles, but soon extended to encompass smartphones, tablets, Blu-ray players and high-definition televisions. As of April 2016, over 110 million users have been documented, with 65 million of them active monthly. Cheap PSN Card Best Site to Buy PSN Card

This is an incredible article a debt of gratitude is in order for sharing this educational data. I will visit your site consistently for some most recent post. I will visit your online journal routinely for Some most recent post. 1 Airport Cab Minneapolis

I have bookmarked your online journal, the articles are route superior to anything other comparative websites.. much obliged for an incredible online journal! zoxy game

Much obliged to you for the overhaul, exceptionally pleasant site.. Car Rental Search

Your case will be assigned to one of our experienced examiners who will analyse the element and assist to formulate the questions neccessary so that you can attain accurate results lie detector test

Awesome online journal! Do you have any tips and indications for trying authors? I'm wanting to begin my own site soon yet I'm somewhat lost on everything. Would you propose beginning with a free stage like WordPress or go for a paid choice? There are such a large number of choices out there that I'm totally overpowered .. Any proposals? Much obliged! hip flexibility solution eric wong

Awesome online journal! Do you have any tips and indications for trying authors? I'm wanting to begin my own site soon yet I'm somewhat lost on everything. Would you propose beginning with a free stage like WordPress or go for a paid choice? There are such a large number of choices out there that I'm totally overpowered .. Any proposals? Much obliged! hip flexibility solution eric wong

I imagine that much obliged for the valuabe data and bits of knowledge you have so given here. trader gagnant

Much obliged to you for such an elegantly composed article. It's brimming with astute data and diverting depictions. Your perspective is the best among numerous. www.redhallengineering.com

Is it okay to post part of this on my website basically post a hyperlink to this webpage? 3d rendering services

Many beat makers produce effective exclusive beats with the help of different hardware synths and drum machines. They should do more stems and tracked out beats with which sound is best or not. If you want to use them for trap albums, mixtapes albums, you can figure out some exclusive beats for sale. We should avoid too complex studio records and low prices. Make some contracts to add effects If you have written exclusive beats , it is so easy to make bangers.  exclusive beats for sale

Decent to peruse your article! I am anticipating sharing your enterprises and encounters. readiris

Myescortguide known for professionalism, reliability and having escorts that are any of the most alluring in the UK. Ollie

Myescortguide known for professionalism, reliability and having escorts that are any of the most alluring in the UK. Ollie

Extraordinary post, you have pointed out some brilliant focuses, I also trust this is an exceptionally radiant site. Click Here

A debt of gratitude is in order for offering this quality data to us. I truly delighted in perusing. Will without a doubt going to impart this URL to my companions. voyance tarot

Stockholm’s Metro system is 110 kilometer long and houses a unique collection of sculptures, artworks and exhibitions. More than 90 of the 100 stations are beautifully decorated by artists. free tour stockholm

You know your projects stand out of the herd. There is something special about them. It seems to me all of them are really brilliant! cafecentraalvolendam.nl

I read that Post and got it fine and informative. vandoornschool.nl

Excellent website you have here, so much cool information!.. wmoraadborgerodoorn.nl

Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking. Toffe site

I've been hunting down some respectable stuff on the subject and haven't had any fortunes up until this point, You just got another greatest fan!.. airport taxi to tunbridge wells

I high welcome this post. It's elusive the great from the terrible here and there, yet I think you've nailed it! would you psyche upgrading your online journal with more data? Jamb registration

Thank you for helping people get the information they need. Great stuff as usual. Keep up the great work!!NBA 2K18 MT Sale

Pleasant post. I was checking continually this online journal and I am inspired! To a great degree accommodating data uniquely the last part I watch over such information a considerable measure. I was looking for this specific data for quite a while. Much obliged to you and good fortunes. video production services ho chi minh city

hi!! Exceptionally fascinating discourse happy that I went over such educational post. Keep doing awesome. Happy to be a piece of your net group. Car Hire Comparison

You have a genuine capacity for composing one of a kind substance. I like how you think and the way you speak to your perspectives in this article. I concur with your mindset. Much obliged to you for sharing. car wash in London

I absolutely respect and appreciate your point on each and every object. heritier

Incredible articles and extraordinary design. Your blog entry merits the greater part of the positive input it's been getting. FIFA 18 Coins

Rather than leave audiences with only the noise of the projector as an accompaniment, theater owners hired a pianist or organist or, in large urban theaters, a full orchestra to play music that fit the mood of the film at any given moment. 123movies

I know your aptitude on this. I should say we ought to have an online discourse on this. Composing just remarks will close the talk straight away! What's more, will confine the advantages from this data.voyance telephone gratuite

Male Extra pills are famous on the market. But you have to know some side effects and results. My prof review will help you.
Buy Madden NFL 18 Coins Online

I imagine that much obliged for the valuabe data and bits of knowledge you have so given here. cheap moving companies

Nice knowledge gaining article. This post is really the best on this valuable topic. New Age

decent bLog! its intriguing. much obliged to you for sharing.... bookkeeping

A debt of gratitude is in order for the post and awesome tips..even I additionally imagine that diligent work is the most imperative part of getting achievement.. in-home care in sacramento

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles.!
AJR tour dates