Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks lifted one of the most memorable NBA Championship trophies up in 2011, when they were regarded as underdogs but emerged from the season as champions over LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Game 4 of that series was 11 years ago and was marked by Dirk having the flu, which Dwyane Wade and LeBron James mocked in a now-infamous clip of them imitating Dirk's cough prior to the game.
The Mavs were down 2-1 at the time, but Game 4 saw Nowitzki play 40 minutes and contribute with 21 points as the Heat were stunned into defeat. The clip of them mocking Dirk and then losing Game 4 shifted the momentum so heavily that the Mavs would not lose another game in that series. Caron Butler from the 2011 Mavs opened up about how that fake cough guaranteed Dallas would win the title.
"When Dirk got sick, and I mean he was sick. Me personally, for the life of me, I didn't think Dirk was going to be able to play. I'll never forget him being mocked by a good friend of mine, Godfather to one of my kids, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. We saw the video of them coughing and making fun of the whole situation. When he (Dirk) got wind of people thinking he wasn't built for the moment, he was just dialed in to a whole new level. It immediately shifted to, and I say this with the utmost confidence, that we was going to have a parade in Dallas."
"That moment right there when I have seen his focus, he was already dialed in. I was like 'oh this is a wrap, y'all just won us a championship'. Thank you for doubting him and mocking him in this moment, because he's just dialed in on a whole other level right now."
Nowitzki won his first and only NBA Championship in 2011, with his career being marked with first-round exits from 2011 onwards. That first-round curse over Dallas was finally lifted this year as the Luka Doncic-led Mavs made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.