Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James had a ferocious rivalry during the 2011 NBA Finals. Ultimately, Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks won the title that year, much the LeBron James and the Miami Heat’s chagrin.
However, now there is a story about the finals that year, as JJ Barea is talking more about the rivalry. Even though it was years ago, and Dirk is retired after a marvelous career with the Mavericks, this is a new story.
Barea talks about how much Dirk Nowitzki despised LeBron James during the Mavericks‘ title run. In 2011, the Miami Heat had a formidable “big three” on the court. The three superstars at the time were LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.
However, Dirk Nowitzki was across the court from these three and was doing everything he could to win Dallas a title. Additionally, Barea talks about how there was extra motivation for the Mavericks to beat the Heat in 2011.
Dirk Nowitzki’s Hate for LeBron James
During the finals that year, Dirk saw a video of the Miami “big three” mocking the Dallas superstar for being sick. Barea says that this was the fuel he and the rest of his team used to beat the Heat that year. Consequently, it also made Dirk despise LeBron James.
“But when LeBron and Wade started making fun of him by coughing when he got a little sick and that clip really hurt him. He will never say it, but he really saw the tape, and that tape really hurt him, and that gave him a little bit extra that he didn’t need, but it gave him a little extra to finish them off.”
Barea, in a recent interview with Old Man and the Three, talks about how deep the hate for Miami ran. He says that Dirk would let his teammates know at every chance he could how much he disliked Miami. And, in particular, LeBron James. According to Barea, during almost every timeout and halftime, Dirk would say something about not liking the Heat.
During the 2011 NBA Finals, Dirk made sure to give it everything he had. To that end, Dirk, over six games, averaged 26 points. He was also given the NBA Finals MVP award for his exceptional play against the Heat. Barea talks about how much his hate for the Heat fueled his play.
“He was not going to let us lose. The way he prepared the whole year for it. He hated Miami. He hated LeBron, Wade, and Bosh. He’s never going to say that, but he couldn’t stand [them].”
Not only was Dirk playing with the goal of beating the Heat, but he was also playing to humiliate LeBron James. Winning the championship that year was personal for him.