JJ Barea reveals Dirk Nowitzki was forced to watch LeBron James and Dwyane Wade mock his illness, and how it served as added motivation.
The 2011 NBA Finals surely has a place in history. It was the first playoff run for the legendary Heatles trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, who were favorites for the title. Up ahead were the Mavs led by Dirk Nowitzki, who had carried the playoff-choker label until then.
Ahead of Game 5 with the series split at 2 games each, a video emerged of DWade and LeBron mocking Dirk Nowitzki’s illness. While Dirk wasn’t interested to indulge in the off-court drama, he was apparently forced to watch the said video by his team. We all know what transpired next.
The Miami Heat roster had breezed through their opposition in a weaker Eastern Conference, losing just 3 games in the process. The star trio were absolutely dominant, and it seemed certain that they would lift the trophy in their first attempt.
The Dallas Mavericks on the other hand, were met with stiff competition in the West. A team comprised of Dirk Nowitzki and a bunch of veteran role-players had survived a 2nd round Game 7 scare against the grit and grind Grizzlies. Going into the Finals, they were the clear underdogs, despite heroic performances from Dirk.
Despite suffering from a fever during the Finals, Dirk Nowitzki carried the Mavs on his back, completing an improbable victory in 6 games.
JJ Barea, an integral part of the Mavs run, revealed in an interview how Dirk had to be forced to watch the viral video. The video showed Dwyane Wade and LeBron James jokingly coughing, implying that Dirk was supposedly faking his illness.
Dirk was suffering from a sinus infection which had flared up at the worst possible time, and the mocking made him very angry. The former MVP had already lost a championship to Dwyane Wade and the Heat in 2006, and already despised his opponent. But this incident took the hate to a whole another level, and served as the ultimate motivation.
2011 Dirk was *still* prime Dirk, even if it was at the end of his prime. He was amazing during that playoff run.
27.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.5 APG
48.5 FG%, 46.0 3P%, 94.1 FT% https://t.co/MXLXeItCHO
— Dalton Trigg (@dalton_trigg) September 5, 2021
Dirk and his run to the championship in 2011 remains one of the most respected championships ever. Not only did he win a ring for himself, but he shedded the choker tag associated to him for so long. In addition, delivering a trophy to a small market team in Dallas was a silver lining.