Dirk Nowitzki led the Dallas Mavericks to a stunning upset of the LeBron James and Dwyane Wade-led Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. Against superstars at the prime of their careers, the German stunned the basketball world with a legendary performance that players today have trouble believing. Nowitzki won NBA Finals MVP for his efforts after carrying the Mavericks to their only franchise title.
Jaren Jackson Jr., one of today’s rising NBA stars, has seen some great finals performances. Still, he was floored by Nowitzki’s 2011 masterpiece. The Memphis Grizzlies forward posted this on his Instagram account while watching Game 2 of the said championship series (via Vito Corleonie):
“He’s so cold bro. Look, bro, it [ball] didn’t even touch the net.”
In the said play “JJJ” talked about, Dirk Nowitzki was at the top of the key being guarded by Heat forward Udonis Haslem. The former MVP simply raised his 7-foot-frame to shoot an uncosted jump shot over Haslem. All “UD” could do was hope Nowitzki missed.
The Miami Heat won Game 1 to draw first blood in the 2011 NBA Finals. Nowitzki’s Mavericks stunned basketball fans with a thrilling 95-93 victory that evened the series. “German Jesus” finished the game with 24 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and 1 block.
Nowitzki was the biggest catalyst in the Mavericks’ huge fightback. Dallas rallied from a 15-point deficit to shock the heavily favored “Heatles” on the road. Nowitzki scored the game-winning basket via his injured left hand to even the series before it shifted to Dallas.
The 2011 NBA Finals was 2-2 after four games before the Mavericks zoomed to the championship in four games behind Dirk Nowitzki’s heroics.
Jaren Jackson Jr. and the Memphis Grizzlies could use someone like Dirk Nowitzki in the playoffs
In 2021, the Memphis Grizzlies reached the NBA playoffs as the eighth seed. Waiting for them was the top-seeded Utah Jazz who were led by Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Utah booted out Memphis in five games.
The following year, the Grizzlies again reached the playoffs. Memphis, the second-seeded team, faced the Golden State Warriors, which ranked third in the Western Conference. The Dubs, who eventually won the championship, eliminated Jaren Jackson Jr.’s team in six games. Ja Morant’s injury in Game 3 might have turned the series in the Warriors’ favor.
Last season, the Memphis Grizzlies could have used Dirk Nowitzki in the playoffs against the LA Lakers. Nowitzki would have been very familiar with how James works and leads a team.
The Grizzlies, seeded second, lost to the seventh-ranked Lakers. Ja Morant had a few good games but nowhere near the clutch plays of the legendary German. Jaren Jackson Jr. should learn a thing or two from the recently inducted Hall of Famer.
Next season, the Grizzlies may have a tough time making the playoffs. Morant is suspended for the first 25 games. “JJJ” has to step up and lead the team. He only has to look at Dirk Nowitzki’s 2011 championship run for inspiration.