Dirk Nowitzki was born in Würzburg, Germany on June 19, 1978. He began his professional career with Würzburg DJK in the Bundesliga and then impressed NBA coaches and scouts with 33 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 steals at the 1998 Nike Hoop Summit. Consequently, Dirk became the ninth pick in the NBA draft, with an arranged trade that sent him from Milwaukee to Dallas.
Dirk owns multiple Mavericks franchise records, including career points, three-point field goals, free throws, rebounds, and points in a single game. He has led the Mavericks to seasons of 50 or more wins and annual trips to the playoffs since 2001. In the 2005-2006 season Nowitzki played a major role in sweeping the Grizzlies, defeating San Antonio and the Suns, and winning the Western Conference Championship for Dallas’ first trip to the NBA Finals.
In the 2011 NBA Finals, Dallas once again faced the Heat, which had acquired All-Stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh before the season began. During the Game 1 loss in Miami, he tore a tendon in his left middle finger, however Nowitzki vowed that the injury would not be a factor. In Game 2, he led a Dallas rally from an 88–73 fourth-quarter deficit, capped by a driving left-handed layup over Bosh to tie the series at 1. Miami took a 2–1 series lead after Nowitzki missed a potential game-tying shot at the end of Game 3. Despite carrying a 101°F fever in Game 4, he hit the winning basket to tie the series yet again at 2, evoking comparisons to Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game” against Utah in the 1997 NBA Finals. Dallas went on to win the next two games, with Nowitzki scoring 10 fourth-quarter points in the series-clinching game in Miami, bringing the first championship to the Mavericks. In the series, Nowitzki scored 62 points total in the six fourth quarters, equaling the combined fourth-quarter output of James and Wade. He was named Finals MVP, joining a list of 10 other players to have been an NBA champion, NBA Finals MVP, an NBA regular season MVP, and a ten-time All-Star. For the 2011 playoffs, Nowitzki averaged 27.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 21 games.