And here we thought Dirk was one of the nice guys in the league.
Guess that reputation might hold up in other NBA hamlets, but not here.
Not after Monday night.
The Dirk devil blew into The Peake and wreaked some serious havoc. And we're not talking about the kind of chaos he usually causes. This wasn't Dirk hitting all kinds of crazy, beautiful, mystifying shots. This was Dirk shoving and complaining and flopping.
And it almost worked.
Thunder 102, Mavs 99.
At the same time the Thunder earned itself a 2-0 lead in this first-round Western Conference playoff series, Dirk Nowitzki earned himself a new title in Oklahoma City.
Public Enemy No. 1.
Ron Artest, you're off the hook for now. Nene? Zach Randolph? Jason Terry? Gasol brothers? You're all long-forgotten nemeses.
Dirk is now the guy who's going to get booed and jeered and cajoled like no other.
You knew he was going to be a watched man Monday night, knew it before the game even started. That's because Dallas coach Rick Carlisle made a point of complaining about the no-calls on Dirk in Game 1, and while I'm sure there were some no-calls, there are no-calls in every game.
This is the NBA, not a first-grade basketball league.
But after a couple early tough looks — Dirk knocked down three of the four of them, by the way — he seemed to get frustrated. And when Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins blocked him out a little too vigorously on a Kevin Durant 3-pointer, Dirk went over the edge.
He shoved Perk and instigated what nearly erupted into a full-fledged, first-quarter melee.
Perk started yelling at Dirk.
Dirk started yelling at Perk.
Teammates tired to keep the two apart, then were joined by coaches who spilled onto the court. It was a mess.
Dirk got fouled by Perk. No one is disputing that.
But what he did afterward?
It was completely and totally uncalled for.
“We don't like the cheap shots when they give ‘em, and they don't like ‘em if we give ‘em,” Carlisle said. “That's the nature of competition.”
“The dirty (expletive) got to stop,” Carlisle said.
I couldn't agree more, but some of Dirk's antics need to stop, too. His flop late in the game, for example, was horrendous. Dirk was blocking out for a rebound, and Thunder reserve Derek Fisher got a forearm into him. But the way Dirk fell out of bounds, you'd have thought he'd been shot.
Then, you add in the way Dirk nearly carried these Mavs to victory, and you've got a recipe for being a villain in OKC.
He went 10 for 19 from the floor, 11 for 11 from the free-throw line and scored a game-high 31 points.
“I keep saying this — it's like a broken record — but the guy is the most amazing players I've seen, just his ability to score,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He's just an amazing player.”
No doubt about that, and up until Monday night, everyone in Oklahoma City appreciated just how good he is.
Now, it'll be hard for Thunder fans to overlook all that they saw in Game 2. They saw Good Dirk, but they also saw Bad Dirk.
In Oklahoma City, he's a nice guy no more.