Photo: Peter Baba

Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki, whose illustrious career coincided with Luka Doncic’s rookie year, recently revealed his initial skepticism about the young phenom’s transition to the NBA.

In his last year as a professional player, Nowitzki admitted to having doubts about Doncic’s ability to adjust to the NBA game after dominating in Europe. However, those doubts quickly dissipated as Doncic showcased his remarkable skills.

Reflecting on that period, Nowitzki shared, “The end of my career wasn’t pretty… We needed a little spark plug. I didn’t think it was going to be [Luka Doncic]… There were plenty of doubts from everybody on the team,” during an episode of the All The Smoke podcast.

Despite the age and experience gap, Nowitzki highlighted the unique dynamic of his relationship with Doncic.

While the German basketball icon would have loved to play the mentor role, he emphasized that they were more like friends. Doncic, having already gained years of professional experience in Europe, carried himself like a seasoned pro.

Nowitzki further expressed his surprise at Doncic’s continuous improvement each year, stating that he didn’t anticipate the young star’s rapid progression.

As Doncic enters his sixth year in the league, the 24-year-old continues to impress, averaging 31.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 8.4 assists in 35.8 minutes per game. The Slovenian sensation has proven to be a transformative force, exceeding expectations year after year.