The 2018-19 NBA season acted as a passing of the torch for the Dallas Mavericks. It saw Dirk Nowitzki spend his final year as a pro mentoring a rookie Luka Doncic. Fast forward four years later, and Nowitzki is headed to the Basketball Hall-of-Fame.
An official announcement came Saturday morning from the Hall’s Twitter account, reading, “Congratulations to 14x NBA All-Star, 2006-07 NBA MVP and 2011 NBA Champion, #23HoopClass inductee (Dirk Nowitzki).”
Reporters caught up with Doncic ahead of Saturday’s meeting with the Miami Heat. They asked him if he’d called the Mavs legend to congratulate him on the honor.
Dallas’ star guard revealed that he had called Nowitzki, but they mainly talked about tennis.
“No. We talked about tennis yesterday,” Doncic told the media via The Miami Herald’s Wes Goldberg.
Dirk spent all 21 of his NBA seasons in Dallas, leading the franchise to two NBA Finals appearances, and bringing home one championship. He appeared in 14 All-Star Games, made 12 All-NBA teams, and won the NBA’s MVP award in the 2006-07 season.
The German played 1,522 games for the Mavericks, averaging 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists per game, while shooting 47.1% from the field, and 38% from beyond the arc.
Doc Rivers Discusses Defending Mavs’ Kyrie Irving & Luka Doncic
Depending on who you ask, Nowitzki might not be Doncic’s only Hall-of-Fame teammate when it’s all said and done. Newly acquired Mavs guard Kyrie Irving has a strong case to be enshrined after his career comes to a close as well.
For now, he’s playing his basketball alongside Doncic in Dallas, and the team is struggling. They lost their fifth game out of their last six on Wednesday, when they fell to the Philadelphia 76ers.
After his team’s 116-108 win, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers discussed what it takes to defend such a talented duo.
“We switched a lot of it,’ Rivers said via the TJ Sports USA YouTube channel. “The second half we switched… Because it’s tough. We trap one, which we know they haven’t seen a lot. But, we pre-rotated with the next guy… That was our whole thing in the second half, just make them pick the ball up and then rotate. You’re so much better doing that than them exploring. They’re both just so talented. That’s where I thought Jalen’s defense in that stretch on Kyrie was huge for us. We were covering one-on-one, we didn’t have to commit another guy to the ball. I thought that was a turning point for us.”
Kyrie Irving Discusses Frustrating Transition to Mavericks
Irving had the opportunity to speak with the media as well on Wednesday. He touched on the frustrations of coming into a new team mid-season, and the pressure to win right away.
“Just human nature, man,” he said of Dallas’ struggles and him fitting into a new situation via Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I’m getting traded to a new work environment, and it’s just a lot of newness. I’m trying to introduce myself to everybody, figure out, you know, who do guys go to on the team to confide in off the court? Who is our coaching staff as people? Upper management, who are they as people? What do they expect from me? The big question, why they traded for me? And, you know, what does it look like for the future? That’s the big question. What does our future look like? What does our future look like? I think that now, again, just where we are in the season, and where other teams are positioned already, it kind of looks like a bit of a clusterf***, to be honest with you, because we’re 37-40, and we’re trying to fight to get into the play-in game.”