The Mavericks got the best of the Heat, winning the series 4-2.
Several years later, in the summer of 2017, Spoelstra apparently admitted something to Nowitzki about that 2011 series.
“In the summer of 2017, Nowitzki participated in the NBA Africa Game and left impressions of his genuine nature on everyone involved,” wrote Tim Cato of The Athletic. “‘I was blown away by how humble he was, and how present he was,’ veteran coach Mike Malone said. ‘We’re at an orphanage, and it’s just (him) being a regular guy.’ Another coach in attendance was Erik Spoelstra, who had faced Nowitzki in multiple Finals but never before spent extended time with him in a relaxed setting.
“During one of the receptions, after drinks had loosened them up, Spoelstra approached Nowitzki and told him, ‘It’s taken me a long time to get over (the 2011 Finals).’ They laughed about their shared past.”
That 2011 title ended up being the only championship of Nowitzki’s storied career. The Mavericks legend is surely very glad he was able to check that box before calling it quits on his playing days.
Nowitzki retired with some very impressive accomplishments. In addition to winning an NBA title, he made 14 All-Star teams and won an MVP award.
As for Spoelstra, he has won multiple NBA titles as a coach, although he probably still wishes the 2011 NBA Finals had gone differently. He’d certainly love to add another ring to his collection in the 2021-22 season, and that certainly seems like a possibility given how talented Miami’s roster is.