While you watch this video of every single Dirk Nowitzki free throw from last night, chew on this: Is it possible that Dirk, long-hailed as an elite NBA player, might have been underrated and unappreciated these past 13 years? Is it possible that Dirk, in a final four showcasing Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, is the best player left?
The man's a marvel, a paradox. A shooting guard in a 7 footer's body. A pure scorer who holds his fire. A fundamentally sound player who takes (and makes) fallaway jumpers that have no business being attempted.
Nowitzki's line in the box score is eye-popping in its banality. But if going 12-for-15 on mostly midrange jumpers is a elegy for excitement, going 24-of-24 from the line is a paean to perfection.
Basketball is a game in which a ball 9.4 inches in diameter must be hurled through an 18-inch hoop, located 10 feet off the ground. The entire sport's drama is founded on the fact that this is very difficult to accomplish, with players missing more often than not. From an average of 15 feet away, Dirk put the ball through the hoop 36 times out of 39. He made it boring. He made it beautiful.