|08 June 2011|
Europeans In The NBA
|Drawbacks such as fever and a torn tendon in his left middle finger are no match for Nowitzki's determination to lead the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA title|
There are defining moments in every basketball player's career.
Tuesday night was one long defining moment for Dirk Nowitzki.
Despite feeling unwell with 38.5 degree fever, Nowitzki dug deep and carried the Dallas Mavericks to another famous victory in this year's NBA post-season.
Looking to avoid going into a 3-1 hole against the Miami Heat, the Mavs got 21 points - 10 of them in the fourth quarter during a decisive 21-9 run - and 11 rebounds from the German international in an 86-83 triumph.
The Mavericks, thanks largely to an ailing yet determined Nowitzki and a great defensive effort in the fourth quarter, tied the NBA Finals at 2-2.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has grown accustomed to watching Nowitzki carry the team, even when he's not feeling his best.
"He did everything he could possibly do," Carlisle said.
Nowitzki was so crucial to the Mavericks' success that he couldn't sneak away immediately after the game to go home and get to bed.
Instead, he went into the press conference and answered questions.
"It (the temperature) wasn't 103 (degrees Fahrenheit), but it was like 101 this morning," Nowitzki said.
"I didn't have a good night's rest, was just under the weather a little bit.
"But I just battle it out.
"It didn't look good there in the fourth quarter when we were down nine but energy and defense really picked us up."
The Mavs are hoping that Nowitzki will feel 100% soon.
He said he has a sinus infection.
"Hopefully I'll get some sleep tonight, take some meds (medicine) and be ready to go on Thursday," he said.
No matter how bad Nowitzki feels, if he has a pulse, you can expect him to be on the court.
"This is the Finals," he said.
"You're going to leave it out there. You've got to go out there and compete and do your best for you team. That's what I did."
If there were any questions about Nowitzki's place in basketball history before this season's play-offs, there can't be any now.
The 2005 FIBA Europe Player of the Year, who turns 33 on June 19, continues to have big game after big game for a Dallas team that is trying to win the NBA title for the first time.
"He's one of the greatest ever," Carlisle.
"He wants the ball.
"He wants the responsibility of winning and losing the game so we make every effort to put him in those situations."