If you're from around these parts, you've probably heard about Dirk Nowitzki. He has a strong case as the greatest sports figure in the DFW area. He carried the Mavericks to their only championship (so far). He has won the Mavericks a lot of games.
In a vacuum, every field goal Dirk makes is worth the same amount: either two or three points. But while a game winning buzzer beater may only put two points on the scoreboard, it's a special moment that surpasses your run of the mill pick-and-pop jumper in the first quarter of a regular season game in the memory of fans, if nothing else.
We have found 16 instances of Dirk game-winning shots, and we have seeded them into a tournament bracket. But the seeding is arbitrary -- over the next two weeks, it's up to you to decide what shot is actually his greatest.
Bookmark this page, or just look for it every time you come to Mavs Moneyball over the next couple of weeks, because this will be your home page for the tournament. Below is a schedule that will be updated with links to the pages (as they go live) where you can vote for the best Dirk game winning shot, in true tournament style.
That's the only criteria we're going to give for this: which is the greatest? You get to decide what that means to you. There's a lot of factors to consider: degree of difficulty, importance of the game, impact to Dirk's career, the drama surrounding the play, or simply how pretty a swish it makes as it goes through the hoop. You decide which ones are most important to you, and vote accordingly.
First round, part one: Voting is closed
That layup has to be the first seed. It's iconic. It's historic. It's everything great about Dirk Nowitzki. Meanwhile, the 16 seed here is probably a shot you've never seen, but was a part of what was possibly the best Eurobasket runs Germany ever had.
RESULT: Last-second layup with 178 votes (89 percent)
If the Mavericks had gone onto beat the Suns in this second round series in 2005, this shot would probably be higher. Alas, they couldn't quite get it done. And then there's no. 9, and that shot's degree of difficulty might be the highest of the tourney.
RESULT: Crazy bank shot with 128 votes (76 percent)
We all remember the team that wouldn't die last year, despite the starting back court's best efforts. That 3-pointer was fantastic. On the other side, there's a beautiful step-back winner against Indiana.
RESULT: 3-pointer beats Chicago with 125 votes (75 percent)
"HE GETS THE BOUNCE. HE GOT HE BOUNCE," screamed Followill, a call that I am happy to have heard live. The mob scene is just as great. The other game winner is rather nondescript, but deserves its due.
RESULT: Pull-up jumper with 76 votes (52 percent)
First round, part two: Voting is closed
(2) The famous and-1 layup against the Spurs (2006) vs. (15) Drive and pull-up takes out Charlotte (2009)
Okay, okay, you got us. This and-1 layup isn't technically a game winner -- it simply tied the game and sent it into overtime. But with that momentum, there was never any doubt, and we simply couldn't leave it off. The other shot probably doesn't stand a chance, but is excellent in its own right. Dirk struggled with his shot all game, but nailed that shot to make up for a bad night.
RESULT: And-1 layup against the Spurs with 129 votes (83 percent)
(7) Doesn't miss twice on Conference Finals (2011) vs. (10) Reggie Evans can't stop the turnaround J (2009)
Technically, this shot is also not a game winner, but more of a "go ahead bucket" since there's over a minute left on the clock. But again, hard to leave it off in the closeout Game 5. Meanwhile, we love the other shot just because it's gorgeous. The turn, the fade and BANG! Buzzer sounds and game over.
RESULT: Doesn't miss twice against the Thunder with 82 votes (52 percent)
(3) 3-pointer response to a Deron Williams prayer (2008) vs. (14) No mercy to future teammate Kaman (2006)
You probably all remember this shot, too: Deron gets a crazy bank shot off glass, and then Dirk is all like, "not so fast there, Utah." Great moment. With the 14 seed, we have Dirk baptizing Chris Kaman with a game winning jumper. Sorry future teammate.
RESULT: 3-pointer response with 149 votes (91 percent)
(6) Layup and a Kevin Garnett foul (2012) vs. (11) Jumper over Carmelo gets the awkward bounce (2014)
When it comes to degree of difficulty, 2012 was a good year. This and-1 layup against KG is bonkers, especially since Garnett is fouling him from the moment Dirk catches the ball. The other you'll know as Dirk's most recent buzzer beater, with the best part being Carmelo's deflated shrug.
RESULT: Layup and a Kevin Garnett foul with 84 votes (52 percent)
Second round: Voting is closed
That one-footed fadeaway bank shot pulled a minor upset in round one, but can it pick up any steam against the one seed, Dirk's last-second layup in Game 2?
RESULT: Last-second layup in Game 2 with 136 votes (95 percent)
The top four seeds are alive, but the no. 12 seed here took out no. 5 last round because of the implications surrounding the shot. But hey, now it has to take on that Dirk 3-pointer we all know and love. Good luck!
RESULT: 3-pointer beats Chicago in playoff push with 71 votes (64 votes)
Two shots that are technically not game winners, but both shots that helped the Mavericks move on to the NBA Finals. One resulted in a better outcome, but which shot is better is the question.
RESULT: Famous and-1 Game 7 layup with 83 votes (69 percent)
Do you go that classic 3-pointer to answer Deron Williams, or a crazy tough layup over Kevin Garnett when he's all over him. This might be the toughest of the four matchups.
RESULT: Layup and a Kevin Garnett foul with 61 votes (54 percent)
Semifinal round: Voting is
And here we are, just four shots left. Of course the number one seed has made it this far -- as we see in the NBA Finals, number one seeds are hard to knock off. And that layup is just the best of the best, culminating one of the greatest games in Mavericks history and greatest comebacks in the history of the NBA playoffs. If Dirk had lost this series to the Heat, I don't even want to imagine what would have been said about him. But on the brink of disaster, he led a charge and capped it with that beautiful layup.
Facing it is a shot that's slightly more recent. It doesn't have the same pedigree, being in a regular season game that ended with the Mavericks outside looking in at the playoff picture. But before you totally discount it, remember Dirk's knee injury. Remember his struggles when he first came back. Remember how the Mavericks seemed dead in the water, remember the beard pact, remember all of that. In this game, Dirk lit up the Bulls for 35 points in ways that only Dirk Nowitzki can, and while doing so, reminded the league of two very, very important details: first, that the rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated, and second, that a team led by him never, ever gives up.
Three of the shots remaining come from the past four seasons. This one does not, which just goes to show how it has lived on through history. Even if you became a Mavs fan in recent years, you know about this shot. You know the story of that Game 7, how the Mavericks opened up a huge lead only to let the Spurs claw back and take a three-point lead with a Ginobili 3-pointer. Then this shot, technically not a game winner but in all regards finished the Spurs, allowed Dallas to run away in the overtime period and finally top their longtime nemesis. We all know this shot because how can you not?
This layup here has made it through two rounds thanks to favorable matchups, but also thanks to a level of difficulty that probably can't be surpassed in this entire tournament. Seriously -- is there any shot that is more difficult? Is there any shot that you are less likely to make in a hundred attempts? Of course, this tournament isn't based solely on degree of difficulty, so consider the metaphorical beauty of Dirk spinning past Kevin Garnett, fighting through half-a-dozen fouls and finishing a layup to take down the Celtics. People will debate which was the better power forward probably for years to come (granted, these people will be REALLY obsessed about basketball), but this play kind of gives you the answer, now doesn't it?
Final round: Voting closed, Dirk Game 2 wins the title of greatest Dirk game-winning shot
It took a week and a half, and ultimately, it was just a countdown for the showdown between the no. 1 and no. 2 seeds to square off. Well, let's have at it. Go vote!