Dirk's Fever > Miami's Heat

Dirk - Finals SI Cover.jpg
Fittingly, sitting courtside at American Airlines Center last night: Emmitt Smith.

What he witnessed was perhaps Dallas-Fort Worth's gutsiest individual performance since, well, his own masterpiece 17 years ago. Yep, on a night when he fought a 101-degree fever, Dirk Nowitzki willed the Mavericks to a heart-stopping, gut-wrenching victory that yanked the NBA Finals into a 180-degree turn.

Seemingly headed toward a devastating loss and an insurmountable 3-1 deficit, Nowitzki coughed, wheezed and pushed Dallas to a 86-83 victory that has the series 2-2 and his performance at least in the same breath as Smith's legendary performance back on Jan. 2, 1994.

"I've got a little infection," Nowitzki said afterward in a press conference in which he couldn't string together four words without taking a halting, struggling breath.

It wasn't Michael Jordan's 38-point performance vs. the flu and the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals or Willis Reed dragging a shredded leg onto the court against Wilt Chamberlain and the Lakers in '70. It won't top Kirk Gibson's one-legged homer in the '88 World Series or Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug overcoming torn ligaments in her ankle for a vault that helped the U.S. hold off the Russians for the gold medal in '96, but what Dirk delivered in Game 4 was pretty dang special.

He woke up with a fever that reached 101. He was weak. Couldn't breathe. Felt, ya know, icky. His teammates noticed at Tuesday's shootaround when he wasn't talking. We all started realizing in the second quarter when -- during a timeout on the bench -- Dirk sat away from the huddle with a towel on his head, two warm-up jackets on his back and two water bottles in his hands, gulping liquids.

He had chills. He had that empty look in his eyes. You and I would've taken a sick day.

Not Dirk Noquitzki.

Emmitt won a Super Bowl MVP, but the signature game of his Hall of Fame career came that day in the Meadowlands against the Giants. With the NFC East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs on the line in the regular-season finale on the line against the Giants, Smith broke free for a 46-yard run in the second quarter but separated his right shoulder when tackled by safety Greg Jackson.

He missed only two plays, literally carrying the Cowboys to a 16-13 overtime win that paved the way to their Super Bowl XXVIII four weeks later. Smith rushed for 168 yards and on Dallas' winning drive in overtime he touched the ball on seven of eight plays to set up Eddie Murray's game-winning 41-yard field goal.

On his final carry, Smith used his injured arm to fight off the Giants' Lawrence Taylor to gain an extra, precious three yards to get Murray into a more manageable range.

Said Emmitt afterward, "You can't play the game if you can't play with pain."

Dirk wasn't injured, but his pain -- or to be fair, maybe his discomfort -- was visible.

The Flamingo Fadeaway didn't have lift. He wasn't finishing near the rim. He missed his first free throw in 40 attempts and at one stretch he missed 10 of 11 shots. But somehow -- amazingly -- in the fourth quarter Dirk was, well, Dirk.

He scored 10 of Dallas' 21 points, including a gutsy drive and right-handed layup that provided the final margin with 14 seconds remaining.

"He was really struggling," coach Rick Carlisle said. "What he did out there tonight was pretty special."

Added Tyson Chandler, "For the average person, it would've been tough to get out of bed. Remarkable."

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24 comments
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Guest
Guest

LeBron James?    8 points.     ........... BWHAHAHAH!    Michael Jordan v.2.0?     BAWHAHAHAHAH.   Hey LeBron; BRICKKKKKKK!!!!!!!

Big D in Plano
Big D in Plano

This is a great time for Metroplex fans. The Rangers had their best season ever, and now the Mavericks are having their best season ever. I will be among those embracing my RAGE from 2PM to 7PM so I can enjoy the greatness with others.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

who are these others you speak of?  I didnt know anyone actually listend, i just thought they tuned in for a breif second, cume or something

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Greggo? Ghost of Lacey? Ghost of Ben and Skin? Ghost of Newy? Ghost of Salisbury dong pic?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Your paycheck must say CBS on it. You'll have a couple thousand watts all to yourself.

Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett

"The Flamingo Fadeaway" isn't catching on, RW. Stop it. Though I bet you're in your garage each night printing up shirts to sell in hopes of it spreading.

Dmtime2020
Dmtime2020

I've heard Van Gundy,Magic,Barkley and Mark Jackson use that term. Somebody is catching it

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Gagree with Davy, go back to bashing on Cobra Lewis or cultivating your transplanted ass hair RW. 

Richie Whitt
Richie Whitt

Plenty of time for those later. For now I'm going to keep chronicling a memorable Mavs' playoff run through the eyes and words of a fan/reporter who's witnessed more Dallas hoops than both of you knuckleheads combined. If you don't like it, the door's on your left. See ya. If you wanna stay and launch misguided personal attacks on the messenger in the middle of a great Finals you'll do it to my deafening indifference. Peace be with you.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Shout out to Scruff for getting my back..exactly how was my comment misguided? It's about time for another story about BDH's puppy dog or maybe one about JHam's malady of week having a more sinister back story..maybe how your "sources" say that training camp will be help at Jerraworld..You know like the other days story about Jody Deen.  Comparing ones level of "fandom" probably goes over well in Uptown with your Broskis, but you ain't winning this loser leave town match..Midget w bad hair and holy Garanimal jeans, Peace (of Greggo's crack rock) be with you!  POW POW POW

EyeSeeDouches
EyeSeeDouches

Is Richie Heat-fan level douche?  Or is he simply not douchy enough?  

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

So, embracing the douche image with that passive-aggressive bullshit? You proud of attacking a couple regular commenters? It's not like you have a whole shit-ton of them. Plus you did bash Colbyashi, and you did get hair replacement. Save the venom for when we say something that, oh, isn't true.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

are we overrating this just a little bit? If the Mavs go on to win the championship, then it is relevant. If they lose the next two, in a year this doesn't really matter. I chalk this up to another Heat collapse.

Ryan M.
Ryan M.

If the mavs win the championship, will you change that ridiculous avatar?

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

yes, I will change my avatar if the Mavs win, promise.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

TRDP1 is still waiting for Duncan to reclaim his rightful spot in the Finals...methinks it twas a pretty dang ballsy performance by the big German kid.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Hey I've been saying how awesome Dirk is, I think this is overblown IMO though. But that's the way things go when you're the star player or quarterback. If you go 6 for 19 but hit the winning shot, or 10 for 30 but lead your team down the field for a score, all is good. If you miss that shot or you throw an interception, the story is different and then you have sportscallers telling you that they shouldn't have played when they're that sick that they hurt the team. Hell, I still hear people saying Kitna is better than Romo, and that's just a stupid statement.

Duncan might not ever make another finals, and I'm ok with that. We had our run and maximized it, Dallas has a window still open. I'd like to see Dirk get a title and I respect that he does it carrying everyone on his back. Hell, the guy has even been playing defense, what the what?  You mean all these years he's held it all back?

P1Steven
P1Steven

Dirk will destroy all in his path. Beware the wrath of Dirk!

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