Dirk Nowitzki's got to go.
I love the Big German. He's a great player who is likely about to win a MVP award. The problem is, that award is for the regular season. No one would ever consider giving Dirk a playoff MVP award, even before this year.
Dirk's problem is that he lacks heart, or whatever you want to call it. A killer instinct, intestinal fortitude, whatever. He just doesn't have it, and I think he knows it. He was described in this article as being 'sapped', 'listless' and 'flustered' and quoted as saying, 'I've got to take what they give me, and they don't really give me a lot.' There is no question that Don Nelson knows Dirk's game, and therefore how to limit Dirk's game, better than anyone. But that's not good enough from an MVP candidate. I need some fire.
And so does Avery Johnson. In the same article, he responds to Dirk's comments, saying that if he doesn't see something better for the Game 5 shootaround, he's going to be 'highly upset'. He demands confidence from his best player: If he's not confident, it is that much harder for everyone else.
The Mavericks have slowly grown since the 1999-2000 season, getting a little better each year, the only hiccup being the Antawn/Antoine season experiment. After last year's Finals appearance, the next step was a championship. To win 67 games, only to (presumably) lose in the first round is inexcusable.
Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks should be dictating the tone and pace, not taking what the Warriors give them. If Dirk hasn't learned how to do that yet, he never will. He's a great player, but he is not a leader and he can't dominate.
If the goal is to win a championship, then Dirk should be moved. I am now convinced that he will never win a championship. I don't know where he could go or what they could get for him, but this is not going to work. And I'm not saying they automatically win the title next year if they actually do trade him. This team needs to be rebuilt as a tougher model.
As a Maverick fan, this is tough for me to say because Dirk is such a likable player, as are the rest of the Mavs. They are an easy team to root for—no thug life activity. But this team is flawed because they are too nice and too soft, and it starts with Dirk, the best player.
I don't expect a trade to actually happen, and would be sad if it somehow did, but the prize is a championship. Unless he finally puts the team on his back and digs them out of this 1-3 hole right now, I'm convinced it will never happen in Dallas with Dirk.
Also published at 110 Percent.