Dallas — Regardless of how the NBA finals turn out, Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki will emerge with an improved reputation.
Although he's a perennial All-Star and former league MVP, Nowitzki has been known strictly as a scorer. He's never been considered a leader because Dallas flopped in its last trip to the finals and was bounced in the first round of the playoffs three of the last four years.
Nowitzki's play the last six weeks has redefined his legacy.
By powering Dallas past Portland, sweeping the Lakers and showing the Thunder how the big boys get things done this time of year, Nowitzki has drawn nothing but raves. For the first time, he's receiving complete, unqualified, widespread admiration and appreciation.