NBA Finals 2011: Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd Vault into All-Time Great Status

Joseph FafinskiCorrespondent IJune 14, 2011

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  (L-R) Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki #41 and Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrate with the Larry O'Brien trophy after the Mavericks won 105-95 against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Time and time again, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd have been two of the most scrutinized players in all of professional basketball.

But on June 12, 2011, 13 and 17 years into their respective careers, all that scrutiny ended with a six-game series victory over the Miami Heat.

Kidd, at 38, had been on a quest to become an NBA champion ever since the Dallas Mavericks made him the second overall pick of the 1994 draft.

It was there that he started every game of his rookie season, and he has never looked back.

Let's take a look at the vitals of J-Kidd while we're on the topic, though. He's second all-time in assists and third in three-pointers made and steals accumulated.

He was never an elite scorer, sure, but he made up for that easily by playing tremendous defense (he has nine first or second team All-Defensive selections) and rebounding better than any point guard ever not named Magic Johnson.

That's pretty impressive.

Until 2011, the only thing he lacked in his otherwise legendary status was a ring.

Now? He's got it.

In doing so, he summed it up beautifully:

“I can’t put this into words, what this means to me right now. The journey, I’ve played against the best players in the world. Playing 17 years in the league, coming up short twice. It’s a dream right now. Being 38 years old and having an opportunity, I’m just so happy for my team. They showed so much character during the season. We could have easily fallen off the edge of the map and people would have said ‘that’s Dallas.”

On the other hand, Nowitzki is a guy who has spent the entirety of his career in Dallas, a place where he is revered like Usain Bolt in Kingston.

The seven-foot German has undoubtedly cemented his legacy as a legend. In addition to the championship and Finals MVP award, he has 10 All-Star appearances, a regular-season MVP and 11 showings on the All-NBA team.

Dirk Nowitzki has now done it all in the NBA, and for that reason his career should be lauded to darn near the highest extent. Forget the fact that he's long been a defensive liability. After all, not everyone can be Hakeem Olajuwon or Tim Duncan.

But that's what makes Dirk so special—the fact that he is a rare breed, a big who can shoot from 22 feet and deliver time after time.

He has averaged 23 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and shot 38 percent from downtown throughout his career.

With the victory, the Mavericks will celebrate the title with the city of Dallas and the majority of America. This team proved with heart that even the strongest forces (a.k.a the "Superteam") can be overtaken.

Kidd, Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler are now all prepared to take the title of American heroes for upending the almighty superteam, proving that you can win without taking your talents to wherever you please.

But back to Dirk and Jason, the two newly christened greats at hand.

No longer will the formerly mentioned greats be uttered under the same breath as George Gervin, Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson, all great players who failed to follow through in the timeliest manner.

Instead, they will rise in the all-time ranks; at this point, I think it's safe to say they both sit around 30 or so.

That's not what matters to Dirk and J-Kidd, though.

No, no, no. All they care about is winning and now that they have proved they can on the biggest stage, there are no more doubters.

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd have a place set aside in basketball history forever.

Be sure to follow Joseph on Twitter at @JosephFafinski.