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Dirk Nowitzki is the best player the Mavericks have had since the 1980s, if not the best player they’ve ever had. But whenever his team struggles, which seems to happen far too often, Mavs fans seem to quickly turn on him and criticize every tiny flaw in his game.

This happened on Saturday, when he missed two jump shots and a free throw in the fourth quarter in a one-point loss to the Nuggets. I heard people complain on the radio about his shot selection. However, if you take a look at his career you’ll see that he makes those shots just as often, if not more often. His jump shot is one the key tools of his game.

In case you doubt it, take a look at what he did on Monday night. The same shots the he missed on Saturday he made on Monday. He only missed one free throw in the game (16-17), and that was in the first quarter. He made two clutch free throws with eight seconds left in the game, which turned out to be two crucial points because five seconds later Carmelo Anthony hit an eerily familiar three-point shot.

The bottom line is this. Dirk is a superstar. Anyone who doubts that just needs to watch the highlights below (or click here) from Monday’s game. The team had their backs against the wall and Dirk rose to the occasion. That’s what MVPs do.

UPDATE: I just noticed that after Monday’s 40+ point performance he’s tied for fourth among active players in most career 40-point playoff games.