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Sport

White men can jump!

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LONG STANDING: Mavericks' Nowitzki towered over the field in the keenly-contested NBA finals against Miami.

Does all work and no flash make Dirk Nowitzki a dull man? Far from it. The gangly, zombie-faced German was all focus, no fuss as he led Dallas Mavericks to the NBA title over the prima donnas of Miami Heat.

When Dallas Mavericks' forward Dirk Nowitzki left the courtside with four seconds remaining in Game Six of the NBA finals against Miami Heat, the German was calling for a private moment for himself, a moment to reflect, to emote and feel ecstatic.
Over six games in the NBA finals, over two coasts of the United States, Nowitzki drove into the ground a myth - white men can't jump.

In the 1992 movie by the same name, Woody Harrelson, a Caucasian, playing the role of Billy Hoyle, makes that signature dunk on an alley-oop to win a wager.

In real terms, Dirk Nowitzki made the statement on Sunday night in Miami.

Nowitzki is a European and a white man. Europeans and whites are considered too emotional and too soft to win an NBA title, you need to be black and an American. The US, and the world in general, had an ideal candidate in LeBron James of Miami Heat.
In many ways, Nowitzki broke down many stereotypes that have been built around the game of basketball and, in many ways, Nowitzki may start a new trend.

Basketball, flash and coloured men have always had a happy union. And it had caught on around: If something had to be done, do it with flash.

Nowitzki is not the typical in-your-face star, he won't stare down billboards as much as a James or Dwyane Wade - his opponents in the final - he won't have any signature aggressive moves, he will not wag his finger like Dikembe did after a block, he will not grin, he will not smile, he will just play.

Play he does with little fuss, receiving the ball, turning around and shooting. Getting those bread and butter shots that have sometimes been lost in the world of flash;putting in the numbers when they matter most - 26 points per game - for the finals.
Nowitzki is a classic case of a percentage player who achieved greatness. The Kobe Bryants and LeBron James are born and reared for greatness, the Dirks Nowitzkis of the world have to fight their way for recognition.

Nowitzki's, or for that matter other percentage players', reign will not last too long, but it is the correction that has to come from time to time. Too much of flash will blind your eyes.

Miami had too many stars. Miami could have won with that many, but stars do not always guarantee success, but when they succeed, they take the triumph to another level.

Nowitzki has just told the world that there is merit in doing what you do everyday, in eating home-cooked food. He shoots from close to the board, makes his fadeaways his own and got the points when the team needed them most - in the final quarter of the game.

The zombie-eyed German rode Dallas to victory on his hard work, through pain (finger injury), battling through cold. He rode through the taunts from James and Wade, sported an eternal scowl, admonished teammates that did not demean them, and when he got success - with his fadeaways - the only sign of celebration was showing the three fingers to signify a threepoint feat.

He is your one-team man, moving from Germany to America, traded from Milwaukee Bucks to Dallas and staying on till the combination of Jason Kidd and Nowitzki won the NBA title.

It must have hurt Nowitzki a lot when, in the 2006 final, against the same opponents they beat now, they lost after leading 2-0 in the finals. Wade had ripped into Nowitzki, stating that the German was the chief reason why Heat was able to win the 2006 finals. He was the Mavericks weak link that Heat exploited.

Cut to 2011, when Dallas won the conference finals, Nowitzki did not linger on court for too long, he quietly slipped away. Wade was quoted saying: "Obviously Nowitzki is very driven. He didn't even celebrate very long. He was the first one off to the locker room. He's very focused. He has a goal in mind and he wants to reach it. "

Many commentators construed the Nowitzki move to leave the courtside during the moment of celebrations in the final as unsporting. But somewhere deep down Nowitzki did not want to celebrate. For him it may not have meant a culmination of his struggles.

He was also very reluctant to step out on court to receive the trophy, but his teammates talked him out of that.
For Dallas, a city that has developed into a strong industrial and financial sector, Dirk Nowitzki is one bond that it can bank on.

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