Dirk Nowitzki: Sinus Avenger
Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki has been called many things, but a whiner is not typically one of them. The German-born center is widely hailed as a hard worker and a team player, and eleven consecutive postseason berths only lend credence to the claims. So when Nowitzki became the recent victim of a sinus infection, his ailment became one of the most talked-about plotlines of the 2011 NBA Finals.
What effect did Nowitzki’s infection have on his game? No one knows, of course, but it is safe to assume that he spent much of the series congested and in pain. That he was able to turn in such a commanding performance is a testament not only to his talent as a player but to his character as a leader. Even when his well-heeled counterparts on the Heat took a few cheap shots at him, Nowitzki responded with typical poise and patience:
“A little childish, a little ignorant,” were the words Dirk Nowitzki chose Saturday to express his reaction to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James mocking his sinus infection in a playful exchange that has gone viral on the Internet.
Of course, words are one thing, and action is another. The end of this story writes itself: Nowitzki hit the floor in Game 6 and pounded the Heat for 21 points on his way to an NBA Finals MVP award, and that Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy. Not bad for a big man with a little infection.