Dirk Nowitzki will never admit it, but Wednesday night had to have been personal.
In the four years since the Mavericks started to go on their free-agent adventure, Dirk has almost never been the focal point during the summer pitches. He hasn't been jetting to clubs, going to lavish dinners or playing volleyball at a hotel rooftop pool.
He's just been Dirk'n around. Polishing his game in a small gym in Germany. Starting a family. Playing one last time for his country.
Dirk's been at pitches, sure. He was there for Dwight Howard. He was also there for DeAndre Jordan. Not as much as Chandler Parsons, but he was there. Dirk so much as left his family vacation to attend the DeAndre meeting.
That's why this summer hurt. That's why Cuban is hot. That's why when it was time for DeAndre to come to Dallas -- not in Mavericks blue, but Clippers red -- Dirk decided to turn back the clock to 2009 and ruthlessly destroy the Clippers very soul. At least, that's what it felt like.
It's a shame, because Dirk is so above all the bullshit from this summer. The emoji war, the petty sniping, the endless back and forth. While Cuban and Doc Rivers provided the soundbites, while idiotic Mavs fans sent Jordan death threats on Twitter, Dirk just sorta shrugged his shoulders, said "oh well" and went back at it.
He's 37 years old now. He's got two young kids. He's simply too old for this shit. So when the time came and the ESPN cameras rolled in Dallas last night, Dirk showed it. Dirk splashed down a three on the Mavs' first possession and he never relented. You can almost see the thoughts racing after every Dirk bucket.
I left my vacation for this? I offered the keys to the franchise to get low-rung free agents? Screw this. I'm running this town again.
For one night, seemingly all of Dirk's twilight age concerns vanished. The Clippers failed to take advantage of him in pick and roll situations. Even with Dirk guarding Jordan most of the night, you rarely saw a Jordan-Chris Paul pick and roll through Dirk. That's something opposing teams have been doing to Dirk for the past year, highlighted by the disastrous Rockets playoff series.
Dirk guarded Jordan and Jordan finished with five shots and nine points. He was practically invisible. Dirk's depreciating rebounding was also nowhere to be seen -- Dirk finished with 11 rebounds and two (!) offensive boards.
All the while, Dirk kept dropping bombs on the Clippers' heads.
In the end, he had 31 points on 14 shots. A gigantic win after an embarrassing no-show against the then winless Pelicans on Tuesday. Another reminder that Dirk is timeless.
He capped the night in the most Dirk-ish way possible. A banked-in dagger three with almost no reaction. A shrug of the shoulders.
Dirk is timeless. We already knew that, but it's always nice to have a reminder.