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Dirk Nowitzki On If He Never Won A Ring: "For Me, I Was Prepared To Live With The Fact That I Wasn't Going To Win A Title. One Of My Big Idols Is Charles Barkley. I Loved Him."

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Dirk Nowitzki and his Dallas Mavericks had one of the most memorable playoffs runs in 2011, defeating incredible rivals on their way to the Finals, where they faced the all-powerful Big 3 Miami Heat, who looked like clear favorites to win the series and take the NBA championship.

Well, Dirk beat the Heat, disease, and more to be crowned NBA champion for the first time in his career when all the odds were against him and his team. It looked like Nowitzki was going to go 0-2 in the Finals after losing to the same rival in 2006, with Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade leading the Floridians to the promised land.

The German big man recently talked with ESPN about Stephen Curry's impact on the Golden State Warriors, explaining how things work for a player when they play with only one franchise. Nowitzki admitted he believed he was going to retire ringless but his loyalty paid off in 2011 when he finally put his hands on the Larry O'Brien trophy.

Curry is in Year 12 with the Warriors. Is staying in one city for an entire career a declining trend in the NBA?

Nowitzki: For me, I was prepared to live with the fact that I wasn't going to win a title. One of my big idols is Charles Barkley. I loved him -- that's why actually in Europe I had No. 14 because he wore No. 14 in the Olympics in Barcelona. And I never have looked at him lesser because he didn't win a championship. He just happened to run into Michael Jordan all the time. Of course that's always in the back of your mind, you're thinking, "Man, what if? What if I would have done that?" But I'm just glad it worked out in Dallas. I really am. And I didn't have to think about ever leaving this place.

That really worked out for Dirk, who went against very big rivals that season. He beat the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, then the champions Los Angeles Lakers, sweeping them before facing the young Oklahoma City Thunder that would play in the Finals the next season.

He completed the feat with the win over the Miami Heat in 6 games, playing through illnesses, injuries, and against a dangerous team that was the huge favorites to win the series. Curry has stayed with Golden State during his entire career, winning three championships, becoming one of the biggest figures in the NBA.