NBA Consensus: Dirk Nowitzki Isn't a Leader?

Max FischerCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2008

Like the old saying goes, if everyone believes something it must be wrong.

Come to think of it, does someone actually say that? Or is it just me.

Either way, I believe it. Now more than ever—especially in the NBA.

Case in point—I have been hearing over and over since the NBA Finals when the Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks how Dirk isn't a leader, and this is why the Mavs can't win a championship.

I find this opinion incredibly ridiculous. Where does this come from? What is the logic behind it?

How can anyone try to diminish what Dirk has accomplished, even without winning a championship? Not only is he the first European player to lead his team to the finals in NBA history. He is also the first white player to truly lead his team to the NBA Finals since Larry Bird, 20 years ago! Think about that.

And Dirk did it through an incredibly tough conference and through

the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. And he did it without getting the respect other

NBA superstars get, because Dirk has always been treated like a second class citizen in the NBA.

I am sure Phoenix Suns fans can understand how this feels. They saw Bruce Bowen and the entire San Antonio defense get away with the same "bear hug" defense Bowen and company employed against Dirk. Because with players like Nash and Dirk it pays to foul them. Because the ratio of fouls committed, to fouls called, will always be lower than other, more preferred, superstars. Especially guys with a lot of highlight dunks that fit the standardized mold of NBA superstar. 

Yet Dirk got through his "bear hug defense" and went to the NBA Finals and Nash didn't.

And Nash had two other superstars playing around him and a team full of talent and a team built perfectly to complement his skills—while Dirk had no other All-Star caliber player and a team built to actually hurt Dirk's game rather than complement it. 

Dirk was even lambasted for not being able to beat Shaq and Dwyane Wade—two mega-superstars who are given carte blanche in the NBA.

Dirk supposedly choked because he couldn't beat a team with two superstars without another superstar on his team other than himself?

Even now, because of this Kidd trade to Dallas, you have people saying the Mavs didn't believe in Dirk as a leader. It's not Dirk people don't believe in—it's Dirk's second banana that is in question. That's why what Dirk has done is so incredible, because he is truly carrying that team entirely.

And this is why Kidd was brought in. No team wins with only one leader. You need multiple leaders to win championship. The Mavs have a great one in Dirk, but that's all they have. And that's why Kidd's experience is so important on the Mavs. Because if anything killed the Mavs in the NBA finals, it was his supporting cast's total lack of experience. Even Avery was completely inexperienced. There wasn't an assistant coach in the NBA with less coaching experience than Avery and he was coaching in the NBA Finals.

I have heard people say bringing Kidd in is an indictment of Dirk's leadership abilities by the Mavs brass. Again, this is completely backwards. It is an indictment of Dirk's supporting cast. It's Josh Howard, Jason Terry and Devin Harris who have come up short in their roles as Robin to Dirk's Batman. Avery has said this repeatedly since he became coach.

The most comical part of this though is that people continue to say this yet two superstars and perennial all-stars and MVP candidates need to bring Shaq in to help them win a championship. These are supposedly two superstars. And yet Dirk doesn't even have a second all-star.

This is the same thing as in LA, where Kobe has Odom, Bynum and Phil Jackson.

And yet, Kobe hasn't led his team to the NBA finals without Shaq, and Dirk did. And it was Kobe whining in the media, demanding to be traded from LA and begging for help, not Dirk.

So how can people explain the constant attack on Dirk? He is the one least deserving of criticism. 

And to top all this off: Not only does Dirk carry his team the most. Not only is he the BEST leader of all the elite teams, but Dirk carries his national team every single summer as well. 

Other NBA stars can't even handle playing for team USA once every three years. And they are just another superstar on team USA. They aren't carrying a bad team on their backs entirely with little glory and the same kind of brutal defenses allowed on Dirk in the NBA as well.

The reality is that Dirk isn't a bad leader—in fact, it's the complete opposite.

He's the best in the business.