Dirk Nowitzki’s off-season decision seven months ago to re-sign and take a $15 million pay cut is leading to a stellar in-season run for him and the Dallas Mavericks.
With the money saved from his selflessness, the Mavs signed restricted free agent Chandler Parsons, traded for fan-favorites and Championship teammates Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea, and in a surprise move, acquired star point guard Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics.
As a result, Dirk is the lowest-paid starter on the team behind Chandler, Parsons, Rondo and Ellis. No way this first-class supporting cast happens without his Decision.
Meanwhile, his team-first Decision is catapulting him into the NBA history books, providing his 36-year-old body with much-needed rest and invigorating the careers of his teammates.
In Friday night’s 102-98 home victory over the Los Angeles Lakers – and nursing what is being called stomach issues – Dirk passed Elvin Hayes to become No. 8 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 27,322 points. He’s less than 100 points away from passing the great Moses Malone.
On the same night his newly acquired teammate of only a week, Rondo, seemingly found his footing and led the team with 21 points, 7 assists and 8 rebounds – all while feeling the love from the sell-out crowd every time his name was called.
Another teammate – the back-home-again Tyson Chandler was, well, Tyson Chandler, playing at a high level, lifting the Mavs defensively and offensively, scoring 15 points, 12 rebounds and slam dunking his way back into the hearts of fans who never wanted him gone.
Monta Ellis, with 15 points and also playing ill, was again “too much.” And Charlie Villanueva is making everyone believe as he scored 13 points off the bench – including some crowd-pleasing three-pointers.
The Mavs are now 21-10 and are working their way up the Western Conference ladder of success in this, their 35th Anniversary year. And it was Dirk’s Decision that set this all in motion.
Stephen A. Smith of ESPN’s First Take said it best earlier this month when asked about the Dallas Mavericks and their positioning in the West after the acquisition of Rondo: “The Mavericks are already one of the better teams in the NBA right now because they are exceptionally well-coached by one of the great coaches in the game in Rick Carlisle and they are led by a franchise-player, a Champion and a future Hall-of-Famer in Dirk Nowitzki who, by the way, may be one of the most unselfish superstars you will ever find.”
Dirk’s minutes and playing time may have dwindled but he is still the face and focus of this franchise. And the Mavs – while still working out a few kinks here and there – are in the midst of an electrifying season.
And they have Dirk’s decision to thank for all that electricity.