Dirk Nowitzki Explains Why He Was Embarrassed After Finding Out He Won 2007 NBA MVP
Dirk Nowitzki is one of the best players in NBA history, and, since calling it quits after last season, seems like he’s enjoying retirement life nowadays. Having scored more than 31,500 career points, which is good enough for sixth on the all-time scoring list, the German also led his Dallas Mavericks to two NBA Finals’ appearances, winning in 2011 by upsetting the heavily-favored Miami Heat squad which featured a Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It’s safe to say Dirk accomplished more than he could’ve probably imagined after being selected No. 9 overall in the 1998 NBA Draft.
While Nowitzki will go down as one of the greatest players of his generation, there’s one hiccup on his resume that he’d rather not talk about. That would be the 2006-07 season, when he and the Mavericks won 67 games, earning the top-seed in the Western Conference and, for all intents and purposes, were favored to win the NBA title.
As most of us remember, though, that didn’t happen, as the Mavs were stunned in the first-round of the NBA Playoffs by the No. 8-seeded Golden State Warriors, who had no business knocking off the best team in the league that featured the NBA MVP, Dirk Nowitzki. And, following the shocking loss, Dirk, who normally would be presented the MVP trophy in front of his home crowd during the second-round of the playoffs, says he was “embarrassed” when he got word that he won the award, with the presentation now being held in a media room because his squad didn’t even make it past the opening round.
Talking to Zac Crain of D Magazine, here’s how Dirk Nowitzki described his feeling after finding out he earned the top individual award in the NBA that season.
“I wanted to leave. I wanted to get out. But the league wouldn’t say anything. I only found out maybe three days before the press conference. They wouldn’t tell me earlier. Everything was so fresh. I felt embarrassed, I think, more than anything,” Nowitzki told Zac Crain of D Magazine. “We won [almost] 70 games, and all of a sudden, we’re a first-round exit. First couple of days, I just thought: Don’t give it to me.”
Man, that’s pretty tough. Here was Dirk, being named the best player in the league, and he felt down in the dumps because of how his team underperformed and got bounced in the playoffs in historic fashion.
Dirk may have said he felt embarrassed and didn’t want to accept the award at first, but a former Mavericks employee, and longtime friend of Nowitzki’s, Brian Dameris, went into further detail about how unenthusiastic the player really was after getting the text declaring him league MVP.
“I was at his old house and we were kind of just lying around, hungover after one of our bender nights trying to get through the sorrow of what had happened, and he was looking at his phone and he got a text and he just kind of, while staring at the ceiling, he said, “I got it.” And I’m like, “What? You got what?” And he says, “I got the MVP.” And he had gotten a text from someone at the league telling him he’d won, and back then you got the award before the second round in front of the fans and that wasn’t going to happen. He was going to have it in a small room in the AAC in front of the media, and I jumped up and I was like, Oh my gosh! as I kind of finally realized what was happening. I was trying to get him excited and he was just sheepish about it.”
It may have been awkward for Dirk Nowitzki to get the league MVP in 2007 after finding himself at home during most of the NBA Playoffs, but something tells me he used the first-round exit that season as fuel for the rest of his career. Still, it had to be weird accepting an award like that after underachieving. It’s probably part of the reason why the league now waits to present all its awards after the season has ended, so nobody has to experience the feeling Dirk did 12 years ago.