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Larry Bird Honored to be Compared to Dirk Nowitzki

Entering Game 1 of the NBA Finals, most observers agreed that Dirk Nowitzki had been the best player in the playoffs. During his games, announcers frequently debated his place in history. Coach Rick Carlisle stated he felt Dirk was a Top 30 player all time. Former coach and current analyst Jeff Van Gundy proclaimed during Dirk’s brilliant Game 1 against the Thunder that Nowitzki was a Top 10 player all time.

Inevitably, people began comparing Dirk to Larry Bird, suggesting Nowitzki may be the greatest white player ever. Even though their style of play is different, people thought the comparison was fair because of their skin color. By that logic, we should assume limes and broccoli taste the same because they’re both green. It’s a stupid debate, but it’s resulted in a response from Larry Legend.

“I’ve always admired the guy,” Bird told Marc Stein. “He’s had a great run (in the playoffs), but I’ve always been very impressed with him. His work ethic, his loyalty to his country. It’s really an honor for me to have people compare us.”

Bird added that “I understand (the comparisons). I’ve always felt it’s an honor when they compare anyone to me, because I haven’t played ball for 20 years.”

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Your Guide to Picking a Team in the NBA Finals: Miami Heat or Dallas Mavericks

Tuesday marks the beginning of one of the most anticipated NBA Finals matchups in recent memory. Miami vs. Dallas. The Heatles vs Dirk and The Boys. Pat Riley vs Mark Cuban. The Rematch Series (even though it’s really not much of a rematch considering how much the teams have changed since 2006).

Rarely are championship contenders as easily differentiated as the Heat and the Mavericks. They are complete opposites. Like tofu and steak.

Yes, the Lakers and Celtics had the whole bitter rivalry thing going on last season. But at their core they were more similar than they were different: two talented, versatile teams filled with veterans. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom against Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. Pretty even, right?

The same can’t be said for Miami and Dallas. They are different in almost every discernible way, from the way their talent is distributed to the styles of their offenses to their general world views.

This makes it difficult to pick a favorite in this series (personally, I’m going with Dallas in 6) but easy to choose a team to root for. If you’re not from Miami or Dallas and have yet to decide on a rooting interest, here’s your guide to picking a side:

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Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks Ditch Doris Burke During Ceremony (Video)

After coming back to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5, the Dallas Mavericks were happy to have closed out the series. But staying true to their workmanlike character, they refused to celebrate too heavily knowing they still have their toughest task ahead — a meeting with the Heat or Bulls in the NBA Finals.

ESPN brought out reporter Doris Burke to interview owner Mark Cuban and head coach Rick Carlisle about reaching the Finals, but when she turned to speak with Dirk Nowitzki, she realized the team’s MVP had already exited the floor. Soon after that, the party ended as all the players dispersed. Check out the ditch party:

Even though this is the second time Burke was embarrassed this week, you can’t blame her too much. She probably should have interviewed Dirk before Cuban, but players generally stick around to conduct interviews. The question I have for you is why did they do it? One suspicion I had was that Dirk Nowitzki was upset at the way Mark Cuban was going all WWE in his interview and getting carried away. After all, Dirk said the team was doing better this year because Cuban was keeping quiet, so maybe he was upset that Cuban was opening his mouth. But the overwhelming feeling is that he walked off the floor because he didn’t feel it was time to celebrate.

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Kevin Durant Is Not Happy to See Dirk Nowitzki Succeed at His Expense

Throughout the NBA playoffs, we’ve seen a few constants: Dirk Nowitzki putting up points, the Thunder blowing leads, and reporters asking stupid questions at press conferences. One of those dumb questions came after Oklahoma City was eliminated from the playoffs Wednesday night. A reporter asked Kevin Durant, the franchise player for the Thunder, how he felt about seeing Dirk succeed at his expense. KD gave about as good of a response to the bad question as he possibly could have.

“I’m not happy at all. I’m a competitor,” Durant explained. “I really didn’t care about what he went through the last three or four years. I know it’s been tough for him, I’m sure he’s happy now he’s going back to the Finals, but I’m not happy for him at all because I wanted to be there. But [sometimes] it happens like that.”

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Charles Barkley Was Willing to Write Dirk Nowitzki Blank Check to Play at Auburn

Former All-Star and current NBA analyst Charles Barkley has been on the Dirk Nowitzki bandwagon for a long time. Before picking the Mavs to beat the Thunder, Barkley said about Dirk “In my 30 years around the NBA, he has the most unique game. He’s a 7-foot guy who can shoot 3s, he can put it on the floor” and that was only part of his praise for the German. If you don’t understand where his love for Dirk comes from, it actually goes back several years ago when Barkley saw Dirk play as a teenager. He related the story as a guest on PTI Thursday.

“We’re on one of those Nike trips and I had Scottie Pippen and Gary Payton, and a bunch of great players,” Barkley recalled. “Dirk had 28 at halftime. He was like 16 years old. He finished up with about 42. I told him ‘You name your price, you’re going to Auburn University.’ I said ‘Here’s a blank check, just fill it in. Just fill it in. You’re going to Auburn.’ He said ‘I gotta go into the army.’ I took his information, called a couple months later, and Don Nelson drafts him for the Mavs. You know how great we would have been? Can you imagine how great Auburn would have been if we had the white mamba?”

The main point of the story was to explain how good Dirk was at such an early age, and how obvious to Barkley it was that Dirk was a special player. But if you think he was joking about writing a blank check to get Dirk to Auburn, you’re wrong. Barkley freely admits he took money from agents when he played, and he’ll probably tell you Auburn got Cam Newton cheaply if they only paid $180,000 for him.

And just for factual information, Dirk was actually drafted by Milwaukee and traded for Tractor Traylor. It was easily one of the worst draft-day trades ever, all respect to the late Tractor.

Three Adjustments Thunder Need to Make to Beat Mavericks in Game 2

Led by an all-time great playoff performance from Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks slaughtered the Thunder 121-112 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals Tuesday.

Dirk dropped 48 points on 12-of-15 shooting and broke an NBA playoff record for made free throws in a game without a miss by going 22-of-22 from the line.

Kevin Durant tried his best to retaliate, scoring 40 points, but his teammates weren’t up to the task. The Thunder’s performance wasn’t as respectable as the single-digit final deficit suggests; they were outplayed in every aspect of the game.

Any time your opponent shoots 53% from the field and outscores your bench 53-22, you’re in major trouble.

So what does OKC have to do to bounce back and even the series 1-1?

Here are three key adjustments the Thunder can make to win Game 2:

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How Would Dirk Nowitzki’s Legacy Change if Dallas Mavericks Won the Title?

What if during the summer of LeBron, a regular season featuring Derrick Rose as MVP, and a streak of Finals between the Lakers and Celtics, it was the Dallas Mavericks who sneaked in and won the NBA Championship? Discarded as a bunch of losers and postseason chokers, could the sports world handle the Mavericks winning a title?

Dallas has been written off by most people and they’ve deserved it. Since blowing a 2-0 series lead to the Miami Heat in the ’06 Finals, the Mavericks have only won one playoff series while losing in the first round on three occasions. The glaring blemish on their list of postseason failures was a first-round series loss to the Golden State Warriors in the ’07 playoffs, the same year they had the best record in the NBA and Dirk won MVP.

Nobody I know of gave the Mavericks a shot to win it all this year. They tied the Lakers for the second-best record in the West (57-25), and had the fourth-best record in the NBA, but that was typical Dallas — good in the regular season, an easy out in the postseason. They were hardly considered a threat to do damage. But then something funny happened.

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