Photo by Billy Surface

Sports & Leisure

My Favorite Dirk Nowitzki Memory

Ich sehe dich, großer Deutscher!

Last night I fully intended to watch Dirk score his 30,000th point. But with my wife at a work function and me home with the kids, I had to deal with dinner and then get my toenails painted. Fathers of little girls will understand. Plus, frankly, I like having my toenails painted. Anyway, point is, I figured I had time. Dirk needed 20 points to join Kareem, Kobe, Dr. J (yes), Wilt, Jordan, and Karl Malone (poor Karl, for some reason, requires a first and last). If Dirk was shooting well, he might hit the mark somewhere in the third quarter. That was my thinking.

He went for 18 in the first quarter, a career high. He got it done early the second. I tuned in too late. But his greatness really gives me no excuse. I should have made the kids eat dinner in front of the TV. It should have been on at the tip. So that one’s on me. The regret of missing Dirk’s 30,000th point is a burden I’ll carry with me for many years to come.

Here, if you missed it, is the historic bucket. A fadeaway jumper. Classic Dirk:

A quick story, then, about the photo at the top of this post, which is what I was thinking about last night as I flagellated myself with a deflated Mavs thunder stick to atone for having missed the moment. At some point during the team’s magical 2011 run, we decided that the absolute perfect cover for our annual Best of Big D issue would be Dirk — after, of course, the Mavs had won the championship. This idea sprang forth sometime during the Conference Finals, as the Mavs were taking care of the Thunder.

“Yes, but what if the Mavs don’t win the championship? You can’t put Dirk on the cover in that case. What’s your backup plan?” There were those in the office who asked these questions. My answer: “The Mavs are going to do it. We don’t need a backup.” You know how Jason Terry got a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien Trophy before the season started? I was just like Jason Terry. (If Zac pops up in the comments with a different version of events, just know that he is lying.)

Well, dear reader, you know how that season ended. It ended in ecstasy, with Dirk running off the court to hide his tears.

Two days after the win, on June 14, thanks to the always-helpful Sarah Melton in the Mavs front office and also to one of the best photographers in town, Marc Montoya (and his producer wife, Kristen), we got about 10 minutes with Dirk at center court. The result was this cover, designed by Todd Johnson:

Dirk_cover

When the shoot was over, Dirk was kind enough to take this shot with me and Zac. I was still a bit giddy from the win. He seemed to be, too. I remember shaking his hand and thanking him repeatedly for winning the title and bringing me and the whole city so much joy.

We see you, Big German.

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