NBA commissioner Adam Silver visited the Mavericks’ business office and was at Wednesday’s game against the Hornets.
His appearance in Dallas provided a perfect platform to heap lavish praise on Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis as young, international stars who figure to be two of the faces of the Mavericks’ franchise for years to come.
He said the wow factor surrounding the two can’t be ignored and that Doncic’s unbridled enthusiasm for the game is what has impressed him most about the 19-year-old rookie.
“We’re very fortunate in that Luka is a great example – I was just saying to your coaching staff – of another young player who plays with incredible joy,” said Silver, who is visiting several teams around the league. “We’re seeing that in this next generation, the love of the game.”
Silver said there are numerous things that have led to Doncic playing with such expression and charisma, not the least of which is rules changes that have allowed players to be more creative.
“It goes back almost a decade to make the game more free-flowing,” Silver said. “And even some of the stuff we’ve done more recently with freedom of movement. It just allows more expression, more personal expression of the game. And I think when it becomes less robotic for the players it brings out more joy, frankly.
“And you feel it as a fan, that these guys are out there and there in a position to be innovators and to be creators and I think he’s a perfect example. We’re seeing it with a lot of the great young players and we’re seeing some really good team basketball around the league. It’s a really attractive version of basketball. And I think from that standpoint, we’re in a great situation.”
Coach Rick Carlisle jumped on the track quickly when talking about Doncic’s personality.
“He loves the game, it’s pretty clear,” he said. “And everybody’s a little different with their approach. Some players are very serious and some guys are emotional and show a lot of different expression. But it’s one of the things that makes him fun to watch. He’s very expressive out there. He engages with his teammates a lot. He engages with the referees a lot. More times than not, in a good way. But, that’s just who he is.”
Silver said he’s had a lot of interaction with new Mavericks Porzingis, the 7-3 center who is out indefinitely recuperating from anterior cruciate ligament surgery.
What are the Mavericks getting? A player who the franchise can expect to be popular not only on the court, but off it.
“One of the reasons we got to know Kris so well is that, with the New York area and the New York Knicks organization, their training facility is like an hour outside of New York City and a lot of the players end up living way out in the suburbs and only come into Manhattan on game day,” Silver said. “Kris chose to live in New York City and he very much became part of the fabric of the community. And I think he enjoyed it.
“He was around town. And from the league office standpoint, we loved that, that the Knicks had more of a city identity kind of like they did in the old days when players were in the city. From the business side of the organization, you’re going to love working with him. He’s just full of life, he’s been emotional in a positive way. He puts it out on the floor and we’re all rooting for him to be back on the floor and be healthy. And there’s no reason why he’s not going to have an incredibly productive career.”