The Mavericks have lost five in a row and 10 of 11, so naturally the hot topic after practice on Monday was … football.
NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs via Texas Tech, who sat courtside at Sunday’s 94-93 loss to Houston, visited practice and afterward, exchanged jerseys with Dirk Nowitzki.
It’s not often you get to see two MVPs holding each other’s jersey.
“Mine was so long ago, I don’t even see myself as an MVP anymore,” Nowitzki said. “But he’s the reigning MVP and it was great to see him. He had an unbelievable year, an MVP year. He’s a spectacular athlete. It was good to meet him.”
Nowitzki and Mahomes exchanged more than jerseys, sharing a laugh about who knows what as they chatted on the far end of the practice facility, away from earshot of media members.
“He’s on top of his game and still so young,” Nowitzki said. “He’s incredibly fun to watch with his no-look flips, his long passes and athleticism, so the sky’s the limit for him and I’m happy for him.”
Nowitzki, by the way, said he’s no stranger to football.
“I got a good arm,” he said, somewhat jokingly. “I played handball back in the day in Germany. So I know how to throw a ball a little bit and know how to catch. But the ball was a little smaller and round. It’s a little different.”
Nowitzki didn’t have the best football backstory, however.
That went to ookie point guard Jalen Brunson, who said he dabbled in football when he was a kid, although he was pretty sure all along that basketball would be his calling.
But when he played Pop Warner football in his youth, he played for a team that was coached by Vince Papale.
Yes, that Vince Papale – the one who the Disney film Invincible, featuring Mark Wahlberg, was filmed after.
“His family and my family are still pretty good friends,” Brunson said. “It’s a pretty cool story.”
Asked what position he played, Brunson said: “I played every position. But basically, the game plan was to get the ball to Vinny Pipalli, his (Vince’s) son, and he ran 80 yards every time.”
Vinny Papale, by the way, plays for the University of Delaware Blue Hens.