Nowitzki praises Porzingis: 'He's the whole package'

by
Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association / Getty

A budding bromance formed during the NBA Africa Games tour.

New York Knicks sophomore Kristaps Porzingis has spent most of the excursion learning from Dallas Mavericks veteran Dirk Nowitzki, who has been more than willing to share his wisdom with the next great European import.

Porzingis and Nowitzki sat down together for an interview over the weekend and lavished one another with praise.

"He's a little longer, a better defender, and a little more mobile than I ever was, a little more athletic," Nowitzki said. "The shooting stroke he's got, he shoots it easy from deep, he shoots it well off the bounce, he can move, he can drive. ...

"He's the whole package."

Porzingis returned the favor, saying he wishes he'll have as much success in his career as Nowitzki, who owns an MVP award and a championship ring, and will eventually finish as a top-five scorer in NBA history.

"Watching guys like him play, it made me realize that you can get to the NBA playing that way," Porzingis said. "That just gave me confidence that if I kept doing this, if I kept working on my perimeter skills, that I can be a good player in the NBA. ...

"I'm happy to see him still playing in the league and still scoring the ball and still doing his thing. I wish I could have a career like that."

The grizzled German and the lithe Latvian both embraced the opportunity to strengthen their bond on the Africa Games tour. Nowitzki wanted to share his knowledge, and Porzingis was eager to listen.

"I've always wanted to get to know him more. Coming over from Europe, the first couple of years are hard. I gave him my number a few years ago and said if there's anything ever that you need, or questions, I'm more than happy to help out," Nowitzki said.

"I knew he was going to be here so I had to use the opportunity to talk to him, ask him questions, whatever is on my mind. I'm going to keep bothering him these couple of days that we have left," Porzingis added with a smile.