Dallas Mavericks

The Best 12 Minutes Ever By a Dallas Maverick. Take a Bow, Dirk Nowitzki.

I remember watching Mark Aguirre go off on the Denver Nuggets in March of 1984. In scoring 24 points in a quarter, the ball just seem to magically, directly commute from hand to hoop. He launched a wing jumper and you knew it was going in. Measured. Smooth. Beautiful.

Nothing, in other words, like Dirk Nowitzki's historic performance last night at American Airlines Center.

In the most dominating, productive 12 minutes of basketball in Dallas Mavericks' history, Dirk willed and skilled his team to an improbable comeback victory over the Utah Jazz. With a colossal combination of determined drives, in-rhythm 3-pointers, step-back jumpers and one-legged H-O-R-S-E shots - and, let's not forget, an assist from Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan, who stubbornly tried to guard Dirk one-on-one with Mehmet Okur - the best player in team history produced the best performance in team history.

29 points. In the fourth quarter.

"Phenomenal," said Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle. "I put it right up there with some of the stuff Larry Bird pulled off. And some of the all-time greats. It was something to behold."

Aguirre was my man. In college, I proudly displayed his McDonald's life-sized poster on the wall of my sports editor's office at UTA's Shorthorn student newspaper. But he needs to skootch a bit. Because he never dominated like Dirk.

It wasn't as singularly as important as his 50-point outburst in Game 5 of the 2006 Western Conference Finals, but Dirk last night further cemented his legacy as a future Hall of Famer and currently one of the elite players on this planet.

How about 40 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks and 2 steals? Only George Gervin and Carmelo Anthony (33) have scored more points in an NBA quarter.

The best part? The Mavs trailed by 16 in the fourth quarter before Dirk transformed into Dirt, clawing Dallas to a 3-1 record by refusing to lose. It wasn't that - like Aguirre - he just got "in the zone" with his shooting. He aggressively drove. He rebounded. He ran.

He led.

I've written it before and I'll say it again - Dirk Nowitzki is the most underrated, underappreciated athlete in the history of the Metroplex.

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt