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NBA Finals 2011: Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, Rick Carlisle Embrace No-Nonsense Approach

The Dallas Mavericks are back in the NBA Finals, and Dirk Nowitzki couldn't be more thrilled. The former MVP led the Mavs to the 2006 Finals, only to watch as the Miami Heat--their opponent in this series, coincidentally--rally from a 2-0 deficit to win the championship.

"We came so close five years ago against the same team and they came back and beat us," Nowitzki told Dan Patrick in a radio interview. "That has been in the back of my mind for the rest of my life if I never would’ve gotten the chance. It will just mean more to me. I don’t care what it means to my legacy and all that stuff."

Indeed, all Nowitzki is focused on now is winning, which he demonstrated in the above comments and in his actions following the Mavs' series-clinching victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. Nowitzki retreated to the locker room during the trophy presentation, and his teammates followed suit, leading to an awkward moment for sideline reporter Doris Burke, who suddenly found herself without anyone to interview.

Coach Rick Carlisle, in an interview with ESPN Radio Dallas, discussed Nowitzki's decision to retreat, and the way his team embraced it:

We’re trying to win a championship, so you can’t get too excited when we win an individual series unless you win the NBA Finals then I think it’s time to get excited.

Dallas fans have to hope this no-nonsense approach pays dividends for the Mavs as they face a fearsome Heat team, which tore through the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls in just 10 games, for the title.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.