Dallas Mavericks veteran Dirk Nowitzki and rookie Luka Doncic are two European players who each took the NBA world by storm when they entered the league. Nowitzki—who is playing in his 21st and potentially final career season—is the 19-year-old rookie’s mentor and the two have created a special bond since Doncic arrived.
Doncic—the frontrunner for the 2019 Rookie of the Year award—is becoming the Maverick’s next cornerstone player, all while being taught by Nowitzki. Nowitzki applauds Doncic’s maturity as a player who “looks like he’s played 10 years in the league” and has also passed on a great sense of humor. Nowitzki is 40-years old; Doncic is 19.
That doesn’t mean the two can’t troll each other over social media all season long.
On Wednesday, Jan. 30, the two traded some banter on Twitter after the NBA announced Nowitzki will be the head coach of the ‘World Team’ for the 2019 Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend. Doncic is a player on the ‘World Team,’ and his teammate will be making coaching him from the sideline.
Doncic began the jokes as he responded to a tweet which reported the news and tagged Nowitzki telling him to take it easy on him.
— Luka Doncic (@luka7doncic) January 30, 2019
As noted in the tweet, Boston’s Kyrie Irving will be the coach for the ‘U.S. Team’ during the game. In Nowitzki fashion, he responded to Rookie of the Year frontrunner with parent-to-child advice on his minutes.
You gotta earn your minutes, son. https://t.co/gcLWfORHiw
— Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) January 30, 2019
Most recently, on Thursday, Feb. 14, one day before the Rising Stars game, the trolling continued. In a tweet by Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen who is on ‘Team World’ asked his coach—Nowitzki—about when practice is. Doncic saw it and responded and then Nowitzki came back acting stern.
Nowitzki is a winner and true competitor as shown by his 2011 championship run with the Mavericks. Even at 40-years-old, Nowitzki still has the drive to compete in the league even though his role has diminished and the Rising Stars Challenge is something he probably wants to win. Even if that means he has to coach his mentee strictly. But Doncic leads rookies in points (20.5) and minutes (32.1) and ranks second in assists (5.4) and third in rebounds (6.9); Nowitzki will better his chances by playing his teammate most of the game.
Doncic headlines ‘Team World’ alongside Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons, Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen, and fellow rookie and Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton. ‘U.S. Team’ is led by Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, among others.
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