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Dirk.

If the narrative that is Dirk Nowitzki’s career ended just one month ago, he would have gone down as one of the greatest international basketball players to ever lace up a pair of sneakers, but one of the most tragic figures of the last 20 years.

His story would have been delivered as one that spoke a great deal about his unique offensive offerings, but also about how his same quirkiness was never seen as a style that would ultimately be a the hero the Dallas franchise always hoped he’d be. Through the lens of the sports fan, he would have never been forgotten, but he wouldn’t have been remembered for being as great as he is.

The fan/athlete dichotomy has always been a problem because our expectations from behind that conjectural fourth wall almost always exceed what a single man is able to deliver. We always wanted more from Dirk -- but he has already given his heart and soul to the Mavericks. What more could he possibly have to offer?

The answer is simple: The 2011 post season.

Of course, his majestic 48-point outing in Game One of the Western Conference Finals was the muse for this post, but the German has been nothing short of brilliant since the post season began. He made light work of Portland’s budding star, LaMarcus Aldridge; showed tout de monde that he was undoubtedly the best international power forward when he took Pau Gasol to the wood shed. Then there was tonight…

Ed the Sports Fan has never been about the statistical superiority of individuals, but Dirk’s true shooting percentage on the night was an astronomical 93.9 percent. Dirk’s performance may have been the single most efficient great scoring performance ever.

48 points on 15 shots, no three pointers attempted. Let those numbers resonate for a quick second.

If Dirk had only attempted 15 three pointers, and made them all, he still wouldn’t have reached that 48-point mark. What he did do was destroy all Thunder defenders in the mid-range. He made nine of 12 from between the paint and the three point line and worked his way to the free throw line -- over and over and over and over and over again.

Serge Ibaka picked up five fouls while guarding Dirk. Thabo Sefolosha picked up three, Durant, Westbrook and Nick Collison all picked up two while James Harden and Perk both picked up one. That’s seven different defenders and 16 fouls drawn. It’s hard to wrap your mind around.

Watching Dirk pick apart the Thunder defense so diligently was a thing of beauty. With the way he’s playing, it’s going to be hard to root against the man. The same sick desire to win I’ve watched in Kobe for the last 15 years is seemingly the same motor driving Dirk along the autobahn that leads to the NBA Finals. This post-season, he’s been unguardable in ways we haven’t seen and he’s drawing so much attention to himself he’s made J.J. Barea unguardable more than once in this postseason.

Even if the Mavericks don’t end up winning a title this season, Dirk’s narrative has taken an unexpected twist in these playoffs, and he’s forced us to remember him as not just as a great European, but as having one of the NBA’s premier post-season performances.

-P. Barnett
www.edthesportsfan.com
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!

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