By John Schuhmann

Trying to Stay Focused

DALLAS, June 7 -- Dirk Nowitzki is certainly excited to be playing in his first NBA Finals, but it could probably have come at a better time. On Friday, the 2006 FIFA World Cup gets started back in Dirk's homeland. Bad timing, since Dirk would love to be there, and because he probaly won't have as much of Germany's attention as he would normally have in the NBA Finals.

"You know, everybody in Europe has actually paid more attention to the soccer World Cup than The Finals, which is a little sad for me," Nowitzki said jokingly. "I'm excited about it, and I'm just sad I can't be there to support the team and I can't really watch too much because I'm really focused on The Finals."

With the Finals ending no later than June 22 and the World Cup continuing until July 9, Dirk might be able to refocus once business is done here in the states.

A watershed moment for the Mavs.
D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images
"Hopefully we'll get to the final and that's July 9 and I'll be there."

The fact that he knew the date off-hand tells you how important it is to him.

Play of the Year

It was the biggest moment of their season and perhaps the biggest moment of Dirk's career.

The Mavs were down three with less than 30 seconds to go in Game 7 in San Antonio. As expected, they put the ball in Dirk Nowitzki's hands. In the past, even three days earlier, he may have gone for the tie. But he had learned his lesson.

"In Game 6, we were in a similar situation," Nowitzki said. "We had 30, 35 seconds to go, we were down three and I kind of forced that shot out of the corner against Fin, which was a bad look, and it ultimately, you know, didn't go in and we lost the game."

This time, Nowitzki took it to the hoop, got fouled, hit the basket and the free throw to send the game to overtime.

"I told myself and the coaches obviously talked to me the next day about it; if I'm ever in this situation again and there's still so much time left, I'm just going to drive as hard as I can and just make something happen."