NEW ORLEANS -- When the Dallas Mavericks drafted Dirk Nowitzki over Paul Pierce in 1998, I admit that I was one of those who thought they'd taken some stupid pills. I never thought he'd hold a candle to the likes of Dallas greats Derek Harper and Rolando Blackman.
But years ago, I ate crow and acknowledged the greatness of the Big German, who would go on to become one of the top talents in the NBA and one of DFW's all-time fan favorites.
On Sunday night in New Orleans, in one of his most difficult seasons, Dirk Nowitzki added another feather in his cap, hitting an 18-foot jumper with 6:44 left in the 2nd quarter against the Hornets to become the 17th player in NBA history to score more than 25.000 points. Dirk finished with 19 points for the night and brought his career total to 25,009 - and counting.
The Mavs also managed to reach their hard fought goal of a .500 record, and, as a bonus, shave off the road kill beards we've been watching grow longer and longer as the season wore on. (After beating Portland a couple of months ago to move to 21 -28, Dirk and several of his teammates vowed they wouldn't shave until they reached .500.)
Although Dallas will miss the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, these Mavs never laid down -- despite Dirk's injury, despite missing out on Deron Williams and despite some devastating last-second losses. And their quest for the playoffs -- and a clean shave -- kept the season interesting into its final weeks.
Wednesday's game at the AAC against the Hornets will be the last chance to catch your beloved Mavs this season, so get off the couch and go show some appreciation to a true Champion... Dirk Nowitzki.