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Behold the Wonder of Dirk Nowitzki's Beard

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 06:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks defends Jeremy Lin #7 of the Houston Rockets at American Airlines Center on March 6, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2013

With the Dallas Mavericks struggling to string together wins late in January, a few facial follicles started popping up here and there throughout the roster, most notably on Dirk Nowitzki.

Aside from the ascendance of LeBron, Dirk's beard is one of the greatest developments of the 2012-13 season.

— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) March 27, 2013

When it started to become more than just a coincidence and rather a bit of a trend, a Dallas reporter, Brad Townsend, decided to ask Dirk about the scratchy facial hair that had suddenly appeared on half of the team's faces (via The Dallas Morning News):

We said we’re not going to shave until we’re back to .500. So it’s been rough. There’s been some itching going on. And since we’re still down seven games below .500, that’s a long way to go.

That was all the way back following their win over the Portland Trail Blazers on February 6, so you can imagine how things have sprouted ever since.

@swish41 Hope you don't end up looking like this... twitter.com/jgallagher41/s…

— Jason Gallagher (@jgallagher41) February 7, 2013

Following that win over Portland, the Mavs were 21-28, looking at a long trek back to .500 and watching as their playoff hopes flickered, along with their hopes of seeing their chins for the next few months.

Since that point, Dallas has roared back, winning 15 of its next 24 games. Dallas is now just a single win away from .500 and a half-game behind the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

So Dirk's beard in person is so incredible. The Mavs should have an alternate plaid uniform for it. #lumberjack

— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) March 27, 2013

Dirk's shot vs. Dirk's beard. Which is more impressive?

— Kelly Scaletta (@KellyScaletta) March 30, 2013

It's not hating on the Mavs if I want them to keep losing, it's rooting for Dirk's beard.

— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) March 27, 2013

While Dirk told the reporters that neck trimming was allowed, he seems to have backed off even from that, as his beard has begun to engulf most of the area above his shoulders and below his nose.

Allowing his beard to grow from all angles, trimming just a bit here and there and letting his wild side sprout with reckless abandon has given him the best beard in Dallas.

Dirk, keep the beard and go with a mohawk.

— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) March 27, 2013

Most of the other players who have grown beards alongside Dirk have trimmed the neck, straightened it up here and there and made it look good in a classical sense. O.J. Mayo is putting together a thick face-mane, but it's been caged, as he refuses to let it spread without bounds. Vince Carter's beard is the same one that he's grown throughout his career.

Realistically, the only Mavs beard that rivals Dirk's is Chris Kaman's horrifying beard, but even his remains a shadow of what Dirk has achieved.

Of course, Nowitzki still has a bit of ground left to cover before he gets to James Harden's level of beard-dom, but his beard is starting to pick up some of the qualities that make Harden's so impressive.

At a certain point in a beard's life, it takes on an unkempt-yet-clean look that is a testament to the dedication of a grower getting past the awkward, ugly and itchy stage. There's no longer any skin visible from the nose down to the Adam's apple, and it starts to go from coverage growth to length growth.

It extends, thickens and becomes a trait, rather than just a bit of scruff strewn about a face.

This isn't the first time that Nowitzki has let his manly side out. Dirk took a vacation into the Australian outback after being eliminated from the playoffs in 2007, during which Nowitzki says he went weeks without shaving.

With the Mavericks just a single win away from being able to shave off the beards (and their next game being a matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday), the pressure is on, and the question is posed: Will the beards stay past an even .500 record?

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