NEW YORK – It’s almost that time of the year when Dallas Mavericks fans have to brace themselves and get ready for. . .
Coach Dirk Nowitzki?
Yes, Nowitzki will be the honorary coach for the World Team when they play the U.S. Team in the MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars game on Feb. 15 during All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. When asked after Wednesday’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden if he has his clipboard out and ready to draw up a few X’s and O’s, Nowitzki said:
“I’m hoping they’re going to give me a real coach and I’m just there to shake a few hands, wave to the crowd and sign a few autographs, because coaching is not really my thing. If I am the head coach there’s a lot of high pick-n-rolls, a lot of shots on the threes, a lot of quick transition baskets.
“That game is more about having fun and showing the fans a good time.”
Maybe so, but as he was going down the Madison Square Garden tunnel following Wednesday’s shootaround, Nowitzki was rehearsing plays out loud and acting like he was reading some coaching notes that were on some paper that were inside a folder he was carrying.
More importantly, in this game Nowitzki will be “coaching” Mavs rookie sensation Luka Doncic, who was named Tuesday to the World Team. Does that mean Nowitzki will be a soft coach and cut Doncic some slack?
“I told him he’s got to play hard or I’ve got to sub him out,” Nowitzki said, jokingly. “I’m going to be tough on him. I want to teach him a lesson.”
Asked if he has high expectations of Nowitzki being a good coach, Doncic smiled and said: “No.”
Told that Nowitzki said he’s going to be hard on him, Doncic said: “See, that’s why I want to change teams. I don’t want to play for him.”
When he took on a more serious tone, Nowitzki had nothing but glowing things to say about Doncic, who is averaging 20.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game going into Wednesday’s 6:30 p.m. contest against the New York Knicks.
“He’s been obviously tremendous for us,” Nowitzki said. “He’s been an amazing find. I think he exceeded all of our expectations, and he deserves to be in that game.
“He even had a shot to be in the real All-Star game, and he still has once they announce the reserves (on Thursday). For a 19-year old, his court vision and his play has been amazing and we’re happy to have him.”
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is anxious to see how Nowitzki handles himself on the sidelines if he indeed has to coach the World Team.
“It’ll be great,” Carlisle said. “I’ll be curious to see what pick-n-roll coverages they use.”
Carlisle laughed when he was asked if he had any coaching tips he could share with Nowitzki.
“I’m not going to give him any tips,” Carlisle said. “He’s got that.
“I’m sure he’ll do great. The first team that holds the other team under 140 will win.”