I know many of you aren’t Mavericks fans, if you’re pro basketball fans at all.  I know there’s a significant segment on this list that discounts the effect of character and makeup on results.  Hope you can overlook today’s report.

There are facets of my composition as a fan in which I worship at the altar of the box score, but they’re not the most important parts.  I’m sure there are people whose kids I help coach and some I play softball with who don’t care much for how much I care about competing, no matter the stakes, others who don’t mind it and might be right there with me.

Nolan Ryan had it, and Cliff Lee did, too.  It’s in Michael Young’s DNA, and Alexi Ogando’s and Mitch Moreland’s, and one day we’ll all see that Jurickson Profar has it as well.

It’s the reason the box score could never tell the whole story on Troy Aikman’s contributions, or Jason Witten’s, or Brenden Morrow’s.

What Dirk Nowitzki did last night might not rank up there with Emmitt Smith vs. the Giants in the last game of the 1993 season.  It definitely didn’t look as pretty in the box score.

The will to win, to compete, isn’t one of the “five tools” in the sport that brings you to this newsletter, but it’s one of the things, for me, that separates the thrill of watching the game from the value of breaking down the numbers.  As a sports fan I need both, but there’s only one I can’t do without.

“He wants the ball,” said Rick Carlisle about Dirk after last night’s effort.  “And he wants the responsibility of winning and losing the game.”

Number 41 left it all out there last night – pick your cliché – and put on a physical and mental toughness clinic.  The world knows he’s a transcendent shooter and a work ethic monster, but he rarely gets credited for the other part.  For being a warrior.  A winner.

It was one of those ballgames I probably won’t forget, no matter how this series ends.  I actually did look at the box score this morning, something I almost never do if it’s not baseball, and I did it for one reason: to remind me that even a 6 for 19 shooting night can be absolutely extraordinary, and worth every minute I invested in it.

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