How One Bad Call Labeled Dirk Nowitzki a Choker

Ari HoringSenior Analyst IMarch 10, 2009

Is Dirk Nowitzki really the so called “choker” some fans make him out to be? It seems as though every time I watch him play, he’ll hit some incredible fade-away in the clutch.

The reason he is considered a choker is directly related to the 2006 NBA Finals.

In game three of the 2006 NBA finals, against Miami, Nowitzki missed the game-tying free throw with three seconds left in the game.

After the game, Nowitzki was heavily criticized, and this was the start of people labeling him a choker.

However, in game five Nowitzki showed everyone that he is as clutch as you can get.

With 50 seconds left in regulation, Nowitzki would hit the game-tying shot right over Udonis Haslem.

Then with 12 seconds to go, Nowitzki would draw three players to him and find a wide-open Eric Dampier for the go ahead basket. After Wade sent the game into overtime, Nowitzki once again proved to be clutch.

With 10 seconds to go Nowitzki would hit a tough, baseline fade-away with Shaquille O’Neal right in his face to take the 100-99 lead. Unfortunately for Nowitzki, one of the worst calls in NBA finals history would stop him from being the hero.

Nine seconds left in the game. Wade gets the ball behind half court. He dribbles down the baseline, maneuvers past three guys, misses the layup—and that's the game. What a win for the Mavericks. The Mavericks can now finish the series off at home next week.

But wait, let's rewing that. That's not what actually happened.

There was a foul somehow called on the play. The referees dared not only to call a very questionable call in any circumstance, but they did so with two seconds left in the game. Wade would go on to hit his two free throws and win the game.

If that call wasn't made, the Mavericks would have won game five and likely gone on to win the series with two games remaining at home.

Nowitzki would have been named NBA finals MVP and the so called "choker," who can't carry a team, wouldn't exist.

However, we can't change what happened, but we can start appreciating Nowitzki for the winner he is.

Nowitzki may not be on the same level as LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, but he knows how to take over games.

Just to show you how clutch Nowitzki really is.

Here is a compilation of a few of the game winners he has had in his career.

And just to put some icing on the cake, here is one my favorite Nowitzki game winners.

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