by Marcel Mutoni

Even the biggest Dallas Mavs homer can admit the following: Dirk Nowitzki, winner of the 2007 regular season MVP, took a heaping dump on the court (apologies for the visual everyone) during the postseason last year and basically placed an enormous asterisk on the glorious season he and his team were enjoying.

We blamed it on his so called “softness”; some thought the Warriors (and specifically, Stephen Jackson) intimidated the big German; others still placed the blame on his coach Avery Johnson for getting outfoxed by his former mentor, Don Nelson.

Whatever the case, the man came up small on the biggest stage, and unless he can redeem himself, it’ll leave an almost-impossible-to-ignore stain on his otherwise stellar (and Hall of Fame worthy) career.

In today’s Dallas Morning News, there’s a lengthy profile on Dirk Nowitzki, and in it we find out that Dirk was carrying a heavy heart during the Warriors series. It turns out that his father, Jörg, was undergoing surgery in Dallas:

“It was not easy for him to deal with the pressure of the playoffs and my dad’s surgery at the same time,” Dirk’s sister Silke e-mailed from the family’s hometown of Würzburg, Germany. “But Dirk is good at being able to focus on his game when he is on the court.”

The specifics of the surgery aren’t made available to the public, and not make excuses for Dirk’s poor Playoff showing, but this is an important reminder that despite these guys being paid more than handsomely and living the kind of life most of us can only dream of, they’re still human beings with real problems – problems that can certainly affect performance – like you and I.