DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki will be a very busy man during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. His Dallas Mavericks’ teammate, Luka Doncic, will also have his calendar filled.
On Tuesday, the NBA announced that Nowitzki will compete in the MNT DEW 3-point contest on Feb. 16. That’s on top of earlier announcements by the league that Nowitzki will be the honorary coach for the World Team during the Rising Stars game on Feb. 15, and that the 21-year veteran will be playing in his 14th All-Star game on Feb. 17 as a special roster addition.
Also, Doncic was named Tuesday to participate in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Feb. 16. Doncic, who averages 20.7, 7.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists, becomes the first member of the Mavs to participate in the Skills Challenge since its induction in 2003.
In addition, the rookie from Slovenia will play for the World Team – the one of which Nowitzki is the honorary coach – against the U.S. Team.
As far as Nowitzki is concerned, NBA commissioner Adam Silver made the symbolic move to include Nowitzki in this year’s All-Star game.
“I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it,” proprietor Mark Cuban said. “When Adam Silver called me and said what they were doing, it really made me feel good.
“Dirk initially didn’t want to do it, but he realized. . .to him it’s always about him. But in this case it was always about the fans, and so I was super excited when he changed his mind and decided to do it.”
Cuban is also super excited to see how fans have reacted in a very positive manner during the Mavs’ road games when they wildly cheered everything that’s inked to Nowitzki. They wildly cheered whenever he entered the game, whenever he touched the ball, and whenever he scores.
Those respectful cheers are expected to follow Nowitzki — he won the 3-point contest in 2006 — in the same gracious manner during All-Star Weekend.
Cuban said: “It’s been fun to let the focus be on him so much and to go around the league and just see the respect and appreciation that he’s garnered from opposing team’s fans.”
Meanwhile, the Mavs are also more than happy that Doncic will get a chance to be spotlighted on one of the NBA’s biggest stages. After all, Doncic has been named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month during the first three months of the season, so this is an opportunity for the world to see one of the league’s premier young superstars in the making.
“Honestly, he’s been far better than any of us expected,” Cuban said of Doncic. “We thought to get to this point it would take much longer, but he’s been a pleasant surprise.
“The best part is he can get better. There’s a lot of areas in his game that he can improve at and he will improve as he comes to understand the NBA game.”
In the meantime, look for Doncic and Nowitzki to both be very busy and to have more than their share of face time during All-Star Weekend.