by Matt Stroup

If you’re a fan of self preservation, there are things you just don’t do in this world.

You don’t sprint across the street without looking. You don’t look a mangy dog in the eye. You don’t sneeze in a cave of hibernating grizzly bears. And of course, you don’t mess with Steven Seagal’s family unless you want your arms snapped in half.

After Thursday night’s Dallas-Phoenix Game 5, add this one to the list: You do not, under any circumstances, pucker up and blow a kiss at Dirk Nowitzki on the basketball court.

The age-old saying is “let a sleeping dog lie,” and when Tim Thomas sent an air smooch in Nowitzki’s direction, he awakened one very irritable canine. Dirk’s response to Thomas’ taunt? Twenty-two points in the fourth quarter, 50 on the night, and all the while a ferocious intensity that seemed to say, Now you have angered me.

It was just one small moment in the game. One impulsive decision in a series where emotions are understandably running high. And when Tim Thomas looked Dirk Nowitzki in the face and blew him a taunting kiss, he probably wasn’t even thinking through what he was doing. But that’s when the biggest mistakes are made. It may have been just one brief moment in the game, but for Phoenix, it could prove to be the kiss of death.