Dirk Nowitzki sealed the deal on a new contract over the holiday weekend and will remain with the Dallas Mavericks. The Metroplex can take a deep breath and relax because the thought of losing Dirk would set the franchise back for several years. As the ink of the paper is drying on his new deal, let's go ahead and indulge in some Dirk-Love.
Dirk has always been given a bad reputation for being soft and not being a true leader for a multitude of reasons. Some of that blame does need to go on him, but a lot of it is based on the fact he hasn't had a consistent source of help by his side throughout the years. If you look at some of the players Kobe Bryant has had over the years (Shaq, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, etc.), it shows that he has had a great supporting cast to help carry the load. When you compare that to what Dirk has had, the best players he's had at his side are probably Steve Nash, Josh Howard, Caron Butler, and an aging Jason Kidd, the comparisons aren't even close. A superstar can carry your team to a certain point but he needs a suitable supporting case at his side when teams clamp down on him or when he has the rare off-night. Dirk has had to carry the franchise with a smoke and mirror cast that works in the regular season but can be exposed in a lengthy playoff series. Everyone is hopeful that will no longer be the case going forward with the Mavericks.
With time to reflect, we can now put Dirk's results into perspective.
Superstars take over when the game is on the line and he has shown he has the ability to do that. When it's time to be "clutch" (5 minutes or less left, game being within a 5 point range in the 4th quarter or overtime) this is how Dirk fared this past season: Dirk's production per 48 minutes of "Clutch Time" 47.2 PPG (ranking 3rd), 14.9 free throws attempted (ranking 18th), and hitting 98% of his free throws (1st out of anyone whose taken more than 9 attempted free throws). 82games.com
If you look at the past 10 seasons, he ranks 2nd in the entire league for points (19,291), 3rd in games played (791), 5th in free throw percentage (88.1%), and 5th in rebounds (7,108). Dirk ranks 5th amongst active players in scoring (21,111 points). The players ahead of him: Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Kevin Garnett. He ranks 27th All-Time in scoring and realistic goal of 1900 points in the 2010-2011 season, he could move up as high as 22nd on the list. BasketballReference.com
The biggest news to come out of his new contract is that Dirk turned down the maximum amount of money that could be offered to him. The contract could have maxed out at 4 years and 96 million dollars but he took 4 years at roughly 80 million dollars. Why would someone take less money? Because Nowitzki understands the Mavericks financial situation. Dallas is well over the salary cap and has luxury tax issues. The Mavericks are a sports organization, but it's still a business and that business carries a traditional budget. He understands that there is an internal budget Cuban has created and he can now use that extra 16 million dollars, over the next four years, and use it on assets to help make the Mavericks team better. Dirk understood that if he sacrificed his own money, it could help lead to the ultimate goal for Dirk and the franchise: an NBA title. In the modern-day sports world, stars hold out for extra money and demand a "me before team" lifestyle. Dirk is clearly an exception to the rule and shows that he gets "it."
Dirk Nowitzki will be a 1st ballot Hall of Famer and by revolutionizing the power forward position, will go down in NBA history as one of the most lethal shooters the league has ever seen. It's without question that he will be the greatest player that has ever been a part of the Mavericks. He is the ultimate team player and will do whatever it takes to bring a ring to the organization. His loyalty should never be forgotten and as fans of the Dallas Mavericks, we should be incredibly thankful that Nowitzki suits up in Mavs colors and gives it his all every single night. Let's hope that this summer brings enough for Dallas to remain a title contender and push for their first ever NBA title. The franchise has taken the first step in the right direction by making sure Dirk Nowitzki remains a Maverick for Life.