Shawn Marion, speaking to the Knuckleheads podcast, revealed how Dirk Nowitzki raised the bar with the Dallas Mavericks to lead an NBA Finals team
Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 were electric. Winning their first NBA Finals title in franchise history, they accomplished the unthinkable, knocking off LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and the Miami Heat in the first year of their “Big 3” era which saw them go to four straight NBA Finals.
James was growing into his dominance as the best player in the league, and paired with two other All-Star caliber players, it seemed as though Miami would be unstoppable, well on its way to the first title of the new era.
Certainly, most didn’t expect a team like the Mavericks, led by a European star in Dirk Nowitzki, to be the team to show them off.
He got it done, though, with an incredible playoff run.
Nowitzki averaged 27.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game in the playoffs that year, helping the Mavs to close out the season with three straight wins and the Larry O’Brien trophy. This was up from his season average of 23.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.6 assists.
Of course, Nowitzki would win Finals MVP.
Shawn Marion, who recently appeared on the Knuckleheads podcast, talked about how Nowitzki raised the bar in the postseason:
"“You know how we really raised the level or bar during the postseason? To win a chip? Me and Dirk was playing one-on-one… we was playing one-on-one during practice, like getting him ready because he’s going to be matched up on smaller guys, or athletic guys, just in case,” Marion said."
Marion, who was productive in his own right to the 2011 Finals team, is 6-7 and 220, a bit quicker and faster than Dirk. Having to go up one-on-one with a player like Marion after a hard practice shows just how committed Nowitzki was to getting the job done and bringing a title to Dallas.
Marion wasn’t a season-long starter that season but played a substantial role.
In the playoffs, Marion averaged 11.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 33 minutes per game.
While on the podcast, Marion made sure to put some respect on Nowitzki’s defense, specifically from that postseason run.
"“People don’t give Dirk credit for playing defense, though, on our championship run, though, he was a great team defender. And he did the things that we needed him to do and was locked in.”"
Nowitzki put up a positive defensive box plus/minus in the 2011 postseason, and it’s hard to even think about discrediting anything Nowitzki did that year. After all, he was the leader of the only team that finished the job.