Dirk Nowitzki is the 2011 NBA Finals MVP.
Nowitzki had a fantastic Finals to cap off a fantastic 2011 postseason.
Throughout the series, many media types looked to constantly convince anyone who would listen about the greatness of the Miami Heat and how they were, at any moment, going to take control of the Finals.
It never happened.
One of the reasons that never happened was LeBron James' sub-standard performance.
What we ended up seeing in this series was the complete and total contrast between Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James.
In many ways, Dirk is the Anti-LeBron
Let's look at several ways how Dirk Nowitzki is the polar opposite to LeBron James.
Because I have never personally met either Dirk or LeBron, I can't comment on their true character.
But I can listen to the comments that both have made in public.
There is a vast difference between how they speak about themselves and those around them.
Nowitzki, while very confident, appears to have an accurate and humble attitude toward himself, his abilities and his performances.
In post-game press conferences, Dirk attempted to deflect attention and highlight the accomplishments of his teammates.
When the Mavericks won the series, Dirk left the court to personally process the accomplishment and remove himself from the spotlight.
James, on the other hand, appears to have an inflated viewpoint of himself, constantly looking to draw attention to himself and take full advantage of any spotlight.
While LBJ throughout the series was willing to give credit to his buddy, Dwyane Wade, that simple act appeared to come with some level of regret and difficulty.
Throughout the six games, Dirk Nowitzki was given the ball, and he found an assortment of ways to get it done.
He hit crazy, fall-away jumpers. He backed his opponents down. He drove around more physically gifted defenders to get to the hoop and put the ball in the hole.
Dirk shot 46 free throws (missing only one).
When the games were on the line, Nowitzki wanted the ball, and he delivered.
LeBron, on the other hand, settled for easy shots, avoiding contact and pressure.
When James ventured into the lane, he anxiously kicked the ball to teammates, looking like a player who didn't want the responsibility of scoring.
LeBron shot 22 free throws (making only 12).
When the games were on the line, James may have wanted the ball, but he appeared hesitant and tentative during crunch time.
Dirk stepped up his game throughout the 2011 playoffs.
While Nowitzki averaged 23 points and seven rebounds during the regular season, he elevated his game in the Finals, dropping in 26 and 10.
Dirk was at his best in the fourth quarter with the game on the line and sometimes the Mavericks trying to come from behind.
While much credit is due to an assortment of Mavericks players, Dirk is a deserving Finals MVP.
Lebron's game, on the other hand, withered under the bright lights of the big stage.
James averaged 27 and eight during the regular season and put up 18 and seven in the Finals.
In many crucial moments, LBJ committed careless turnovers (he averaged four TOs/game).
In the end, the player who is touted as the best in the game didn't come through.
People used to call Dirk "soft" and "not a clutch player."
The 2011 NBA Finals will change not only how Nowitzki is referred to but how people perceive him and his game.
He played magnificently. He fought through some minor injuries and sickness. He carried his team to a title.
LeBron James has been idolized and exalted ever since coming into the league straight out of high school.
He has been and is one of the most talented athletes in the league.
However, his image is changing.
He has gone from struggling superstar who's trying to take HIS team (Cleveland) to a title to a spoiled superstar who can't get it done even alongside some of the best talent in the NBA.