One of the biggest upsets in recent NBA memory was when the Dirk Nowitzki-led Dallas Mavericks bested LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in six games in the 2011 Finals. The Heat were heavily favored heading into the series, and after they won the first game it looked like the Heat were poised to win their second title in franchise history. However, the Mavericks had other plans. Dallas bounced back in Game 2 to tie the series and 1-1, and then they went on to win three of the next four games to pull off the massive upset and claim the first title Mavericks history.
Corey Brewer was a member of that champion Mavericks squad, and during a recent appearance on All Things Covered with Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden he discussed Dallas' mindset heading into that series, including how they felt wholly disrespected by the basketball world.
"We were being disrespected," Brewer said. "Nobody even talked about us. It was all about the 'Heatles.' So for us, it was like 'alright, they're disrespecting us.' And you gotta realize, we had a lot of great players on that team. We had Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, DeShawn Stevenson, Brandon Haywood. We had Tyson Chandler, the big anchor back there. We had a good team, so we felt disrespected and I think that's what we took into the Finals. If you're going to disrespect us, we're going to show you that we're not to be disrespected."
One of the more memorable moments from that Finals series was a viral clip of James and Wade mocking Nowitzki for saying that he felt under the weather during the series. You can see that clip below:
Unsurprisingly, Brewer said that those antics from James and Wade helped give the Mavericks -- and Nowitzki specifically -- some added motivation.
"Oh for sure [Dirk] took it personally," Brewer said. "... Everybody did. We saw it, everybody saw it. They were making fun of the big guy. You can't make fun of the big guy. If you make fun of the big guy you're making fun of everybody, and I guess that's kind of the way we went out there and played. We played some great basketball in that series."
Brewer isn't the first player to point to James and Wade mocking Nowitzki as a major turning point in the series. Caron Butler, who was on that Mavericks team, previously stated that that moment shifted the entire series.
"When Dirk got sick and I mean he was sick," Butler said last year. "Me personally I did not for the life of me, for the life I did not think that Dirk was going to be able to play. And I'll never forget him being mocked by a good friend of mine, the godfather to one of my kids, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James. We saw the video, like we saw the visual, of like them coughing and making fun of the whole situation.
"And when he had got wind of people thinking that he wasn't built for the moment like he was just dialed into a whole 'nother level. And it immediately just shifted, where I'm telling you I say this with the utmost confidence, I knew that we was going to have a parade in Dallas. That moment right there when that happened and I just seen his focus, he was already dialed in but he just took it there. I was like it's a wrap. Y'all just won us the championship. I was like thank you, thank you for doubting him and mocking him in this moment because like he's just dialed in on a whole 'nother level now."
Clearly, James and Wade made a mistake when they decided to poke fun at Nowitzki. If they hadn't, perhaps the series would have turned out differently.