Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki joined The Ben & Skin Show on 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday night to discuss his upcoming Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic and the state of his hoops squad ahead of the 2018-19 season. Click below to listen, or read a transcript of some of his answers.
On this weekend’s tennis tournament: “Year 2 was an unbelievable success last year. We decided to use the money as a relief fund for Hurricane Harvey last year, and we almost made close to $2 million, thanks to a lot of great sponsors and also Mark Cuban matching the funds. We were able to help a lot of families that got relocated and lost everything in Hurricane Harvey. This is our third year and we’re excited to do it again. We got some good names coming again. We got Tony Haas coming back, we got Andy Roddick coming back, so it should be a fun event and I’m really looking forward to it.”
On what he’s seen so far from Luka Doncic: “I really like what I’m seeing. He’s incredible with the ball for a big guy — I mean, he’s a legit 6-8, 6-9. He handles the ball. He even like, when somebody scores, he runs back, gets the ball, and literally brings the ball up like a point guard. He’s unbelievable in pick-and-roll play. He did over-the-head, between-the-leg passes to cutters. I think the savviness that he brings, the court vision, is already unbelievable. I couldn’t believe what I saw for a 19, 20-year-old. Unbelievable.”
On not wanting Doncic to feel pressure: “Obviously I don’t want to put too much pressure on him either. Coming over from a different country, I went through the same thing about 20 years ago. It’s tough to adjust to a lot of things, to living in a different country, another culture, to a different game, different coaching, different play style. For me, that took a full year. My first year was really, really tough. So we’re gonna do everything we can to help this kid develop and have fun and learn, so we can see the best Luka here in a year or a couple more years. But he is an incredible talent. His court vision and passing for his size at his age is something I’ve never seen in my 20 years.”
On summer pick-up games in Dallas: “For me, this was just the first time this summer playing a bit. I played only one game last week, and I played a couple games here this week. For me right now it’s about more getting up and down, getting a little conditioning. I’m not really too invested yet in the game. But then, when the other guys are obviously full-on, we’re all competitors, they wanna win. There are no referees, so sometimes that’s a little tricky situation. You call your own fouls. It’s just like in the YMCA. One guy might drive in there a little soft and just throw something up. If it doesn’t go in he calls a foul, and the whole gym is like ‘WHAT?!'”
On Luka’s work ethic: “We’re lucky, actually, in that category. We have a great culture. You won’t find a harder worker than Dwight Powell and Harrison Barnes, and some of our younger guys. They are in at all times. They’re in for five, six hours at a time, so I think that’s a great culture to have. And Luka is gonna fit right in. You gotta work to get better, and we’ll see that this year.”
On Dennis Smith Jr.’s improvement: “I thought we saw a tremendous improvement already in Year 1, from when he started til the end. I thought we saw some plays in March and April, passing-wise, coming off the pick-and-roll, keeping plays, knowing when to score, shoot, pass, I thought his game already improved tremendously. The sky’s the limit for him. He looks even more explosive than last year, if that’s possible, some of those dunks he had. Already this week, he’s been shooting it better. We’re excited. I’m excited for him to have another big year. Year 2 is almost easier; you know what to expect the league is gonna be like. So I think he’s gonna have a great year for us. He’s another hard worker that’s in the gym and works on his game.”
>On his strange shooting lesson with Jason Kidd:“I think he misinterpreted that one, or however you say it. We do breathe — a couple guys are taught to breathe out when they shoot, some guys hold their breath when they shoot. Holger taught us to breathe in when you shoot. That’s kind of what Holger teaches. So we were kind of talking shooting and some of the stuff that I do. I think there was so much it overwhelmed him a little bit, and at the end of the day just everything sounded the same to him, so he just kind of said, ‘OK, so all you want me to do is breathe through my eyes and I’ll make everything?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, just do that.'”
The Ben & Skin Show airs weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 105.3 The Fan.