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‘I’ve never faked illness’: When Dirk Nowitzki called LeBron James and Dwyane Wade childish for mocking his cough in 2011 NBA Finals

Amulya Shekhar
|Fri Dec 04 2020


Ahead of Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade mocked Dirk Nowitzki for faking a fever before Game 4.

Before walking out for warmups ahead of Game 5, Wade and James mocked Dirk’s fever condition. The German stretch big was said to have a fever with a body temperature in excess of 100 degrees for the previous game. His shooting percentages and all-round impact was also down in the game.

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Nowitzki fought through a sinus infection and everything else that ailed him and his team to power a 21-9 run in the final period. The Mavericks bagged a memorable 86-83 victory.

This was a man clearly off his physical best. But James and Wade, playing the villain’s roles perfectly, mocked him for faking his illness ahead of Game 5.

Dirk Nowitzki’s response to allegations of faking illness by Heat players

The German superstar didn’t take kindly to these attempts to downplay his marvelous efforts. Nowitzki was decisive in the 4th quarter with 10 points. He followed that up 29 points to lead all scorers in Game 5.

In an interview during a practice ahead of Game 6, Dirk Nowitzki let his feelings be known:

“I just thought it was a little childish, a little ignorant. I’ve been in this league for 13 years. I’ve never faked an injury or illness. It’s over to me. It’s not going to add anything extra to me. This is the NBA Finals. If you need extra motivation, you have a problem.”

How Karma came around to haunt LeBron James in 2014

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were adamant that they didn’t actually mock Dirk Nowitzki in a later interview. But if they were lying when they actually were mocking the Mavs superstar, the great leveller called Time came back to haunt them.

LeBron James had to walk off with cramps from Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals when the air conditioning at the AT&T Center shut down. He lost a lot of fluid which caused this. But this gave sports fans across the world the schadenfreude they wanted – the villain of the NBA having to miss clutch time.


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