Dirk Nowitzki on Kristaps Porzingis: He’s For Real


The comparisons between Dirk Nowitzki and Kristaps Porzingis may never subside. Both stand at 7’0″ or taller, shoot with legitimate 3-point range, and come from a country in Europe.

On Monday, November 7, a new conclusion was drawn: they can match one another shot-for-shot.

The highly anticipated clash between Nowitzki and Porzingis lived up to the hype. Both players exceeded 20 points, battling until the very end of the Dallas Mavericks’ 104-97 road victory over the New York Knicks.

According to Ian Begley of ESPN New York, Nowitzki is all aboard the hype train after seeing Porzingis up close and in person.

"“It’s more than fair,” Nowitzki said after his first game against Porzingis. “He’s probably way ahead of the curve. When I was 20, I was scared to death out there. … He’s almost averaging a double-double, so he’s way better than I was at 20. So the comparison’s probably unfair to me.”“He’s for real,” Nowitzki said after scoring a team-high 25 points for the Mavericks (13-9). “We’ve said it before. He’s tougher than you think. He’s long. He’s athletic. He can put the ball on the floor. … The sky’s the limit for this kid, not only because he’s good but also because I heard he lives and breathes basketball. He stays in the gym, he works hard and doesn’t let all this hype here get to his head. You’ve to root for him.”"

After the performance that Porzingis put forth against Nowitzki, it’s hard to do anything but praise him.

The rookie big man posted 28 points, two rebounds, one assist, two blocks and a steal in 35 minutes against the Mavericks. He shot 13-of-18 from the field and made two of his four 3-point field goal attempts.

It was a Nowitzki-like performance, to say the least.

One would like to see Porzingis pull down more than two rebounds, but crashing the boards has been a strength since Day 1. A single game that included his scoring a remarkably efficient 28 points on 72.2 percent shooting shouldn’t trouble his critics.

Instead, it should offer even more reason for optimism.

Every time the pressure mounts, Porzingis seems to rise to the occasion. He scored 29 points in front of Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier and Willis Reed, had 28 against Nowitzki, and ripped down eight offensive rebounds against LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan.

The latter performance included the first of his borderline iconic put-back dunks.

Add dueling with Nowitzki to Porzingis’ growing resume.

Some have attempted to downplay Porzingis’ rise to fame, and others have overstated it. What’s clear without bias is that the Top 5 draft pick is not afraid of the moment.

All this praise has done is motivate the 20-year-old.

"“Obviously, he’s showing some respect to me. That shows me that maybe I have the potential to one day be as great as he is,” Porzingis said. “I’ve got to keep working, and hopefully, I can be as good as he thinks I can be.”"

That’s a tall task. It’s also a lofty goal that all Knicks fans should hope to see Porzingis aspire to achieve.

Over the course of his illustrious career, Nowitzki has won an NBA championship, a Finals MVP award, and a regular season MVP trophy. He’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of the most revered players in league history.

If Kristaps Porzingis can achieve anything close to what Dirk Nowitzki has, Phil Jackson will have struck pay dirt at No. 4 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.