Dallas Mavericks

Porzingis, Doncic take Mavericks’ torch from Dirk: ‘For 20 years, he created a culture’

When the Dallas Mavericks take the court at American Airlines Center Friday night it will be the first time without Dirk Nowitzki on the roster since 1998.

The Mavs’ preseason home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks will give fans the first chance to see a new era begin to bloom.

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It will be Kristaps Porzingis’ first home game with the Mavs. He had 18 points and seven rebounds Wednesday against the Pistons in Detroit.

For Porzingis, the idea of taking the torch — along with Luka Doncic — from Nowitzki’s legacy, is daunting but thrilling.

“All I know is we have huge shoes to fill with Dirk being gone now and what he created for this city and this organization,” he said. “For 20 years, he created a culture. Luka and I are excited about that.”

Porzingis, who hasn’t played in a regular-season game since a serious knee injury in February 2018 sideline him for the entire 2019 season, said Nowitzki was an idol growing up.

“I was super tempted to play the last 10-15 game last season,” said Porzingis, who instead had to watch Nowitzki finish his Hall of Fame career from the bench. “I’m glad I got a chance to play against him.”

Nowitzki will provide Porzingis, Doncic and the entire Mavs’ roster an obvious mentor off the court.

“We don’t have to overthink anything,” Porzingis said. “All we have to do is play our games and rep the city the right way, rep the organization the right way. Dirk is a special human being. What he did for this place and how loyal he was … it’s not something easy to replicate. But we’re excited. It’s an opportunity for us.”

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This story was originally published October 11, 2019 5:00 AM.

Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.
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