They are the two 7-foot ships that pass in the night, and speak to each other in passing. They are the friendship that every fan in the NBA wants to see, the mentorship that seemed all but inevitable.
They seem incapable of making any of that happen.
So seriously, folks, what do Kristaps Porzingis and Dirk Nowitzki have to do to spend a few hours in a gym together?
The duos best efforts were thwarted in the offseason this year, after Nowitzki had someone slip Porzingis his number when they faced each other in December. They finally got in contact and, with the help of Jeff Hornacek and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, had every intention of working together before scheduling conflicts made it an impossibility.
And on Monday, Nowitzki could only watch as his fellow European made easy work of Dorian Finney-Smith and Andrew Bogut, scoring 24 points with 11 rebounds.
Porzingis’ bank shot with 3:18 left in the first half tied the game and helped pave the way for the Knicks’ third-quarter surge in the 93-77 win at Madison Square Garden.
(Nowitzki had a long warmup before the game but was scratched for a fourth straight game with a sore right Achilles.)
“Maybe someday, we can get Dirk to work with KP,” Hornacek said. “He’s got that height, the knowledge of being able to just kind of get to your spot and shooting over people. They might be able to challenge your shot, but you’re still going to get it up . . . where we think KP can get to in his scoring ability.”
Both this season and last, Porzingis has shown serious interest in cribbing Nowitzki’s signature shot: the one-legged fadeaway. Now, imagine that on this team, courtesy of a player who’s got three inches on the 7-foot Nowitzki. No wonder Hornacek tried to schedule a playdate.
And Carlisle was just a good sport.
“I was one of the brokers,” he said of a potential meeting, adding that it could happen “maybe sometime in the future.”
Hornacek “reached out to me on it and I spoke to Dirk and Dirk’s a giver,” Carlisle added. “He would love to see every international guy have the same opportunities that he’s had.”
And that may seem a little odd — after all, these guys still have to play against each other — but both coaches said that it’s just the nature of the league. Veteran players will often be open to helping younger opponents, Hornacek said.
And with both Hornacek and Carlisle clearly on board, there may come a time when Nowitzki and Porzingis finally get their day.
“They’re great stories in our game,” Carlisle said. “And it’s one of the reasons we have such a great game. The NBA is a family.”