There are not many times when legends such as Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan get to play on the same court.
Nowitzki, a 13-time All-Star, is in his 18th season with the Dallas Mavericks. Duncan, a 15-time All-Star, is in his 19th season with the San Antonio Spurs.
These guys are all first ballot Hall of Fame players — it’s unique.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle
“They’re classics, really,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “These guys aren’t going to be around forever, so you’ve got to really savor and enjoy these opportunities to see guys like Dirk and LeBron James and not only Duncan, but you’ve got [Manu] Ginobili and [Tony] Parker out there, too.
“These guys are all first-ballot Hall of Fame players — it’s unique.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been impressed with what Nowitzki has been able to accomplish throughout his stellar career.
He’s highly intelligent, he’s highly competitive, he wants to play as long as he can and he does what he needs to do to be able to do that. He’s a special guy.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Dirk Nowitzki
“We’ve all said it a thousand times — he’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game,” Popovich said. “Period. Nothing else needs to be said.
“He’s highly intelligent, he’s highly competitive, he wants to play as long as he can and he does what he needs to do to be able to do that. He’s a special guy.”
Nowitzki turns 38 on June 19 and has one more season remaining on his contract that will pay him $8.3 million. Duncan turns 40 on April 25 and has a player option that will pay him $5.6 million next season.
“It’s historic, and it’s two of the best to ever play and two of my favorite players to ever play,” Mavs forward Chandler Parsons said. “It’s two true professionals that have stuck with the same team their entire careers.
“I’m not sure how many more times you’ll see them playing against each other on the same court, but you just kind of embrace and cherish the games that they have left against each other. I think Dirk’s got a lot left in his tank, but I don’t know about Tim as much.”
What makes the Nowitzki-Duncan rivalry special is that each has played for only one franchise throughout their illustrious careers. In this age of free agency where players continue to chase the almighty dollar, both turned down chances at offers elsewhere and gave their franchises hometown discounts to pursue other free agents.
It’s crazy for a guy like me who has been watching them my entire life to play against each other and be on the same court with them.
Mavs forward Chandler Parsons
“The other thing I think is great about the Western Conference matchups is that these guys have been going at it for over a decade,” Carlisle said. “It’s been a long-term thing, and you never get tired of seeing the competition.”
The Mavs open a three-game homestand at 7:30 p.m. Monday against Jae Crowder and the Boston Celtics.
Dallas also hosts the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday before hitting the road to play at Houston next Sunday.