In this day and age where loyalty to a franchise is quickly abandoned for the lure of the dollar, Dirk Nowitzki did something many players would not.
Maverick fans weren't sure why Nowitzki would opt out of his contract with one year left worth $21.6 million. The only assumption was he was packing his bags and heading out a la Steve Nash.
Not only did Nowitzki commit with the Dallas Mavericks on a four-year deal, but the figures are rumored at $80 million. The maximum salary for a four-year deal is $96.2 million.
He took $16 million less than the maximum in exchange for the Mavericks to surround him with a championship-caliber team.
With the team already money-tight on cap space, this extra money allows the team to possibly re-sign Brendan Haywood and allow a sign-and-trade and bring in a sidekick for Nowitzki.
Although players like LeBron James, Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh and Paul Pierce may be out of the equation, the team does have attractable, expiring contract players and an aggressive owner known for making blockbuster trades.
Throughout his career, Nowitzki's leadership skills have taken a beating from the media and he has been called everything from not a clutch shooter, not a first option, and not a tough player.
For someone of his status to take a pay cut for the only team you've played with says it all about the 7-foot forward from Germany.
To say he's not worth max-contract money is ludicrous. When players such as Joe Johnson, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Chris Bosh will eventually get $100 million each for their contracts, they have yet to prove why they deserve such an amount.
Nowitzki's team choked in 2006 up two games to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, but it's more appearances than Johnson, Stoudemire and Bosh combined.
Nowitzki consistently brings a 20-point, 8-rebound game every night. Efforts from players like Stoudemire and Johnson can question whether they are worth maximum salary contracts.
Not to mention having an MVP trophy under his belt, Nowitzki deserves more than $80 million.
Rather than becoming greedy, he wants to reach a level that he hasn't in his 11-year career.
There may be questions about the way he plays the game, but let there be no question on what his motive is: a title, not money.
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