The NBA All-Star Game is a polarizing event. Some people find it to be a no-defense embarrassment while others revel in the pure entertainment of a glorified three-point shooting contest with a smattering of impressive dunks mixed in.
As Dwyane Wade put it during a mid-game interview, the game is a chance for the legends of the league on their last leg to interact with the young guys they’ll pass the torch to when they finally retire.
Credit to NBA commissioner Adam Silver for giving Wade and Dirk Nowitzki a final curtain call down in Charlotte this past weekend. The gesture paid dividends.
Nowitzki entering the game on Sunday and promptly drilling a handful of long three pointers was among the most wonderful moments of the weekend.
It also allowed the Sixers' young stars to interact with a guy they both marveled at as kids growing up watching the NBA.
Simmons even had an up-close look at Nowitzki's game when the Dallas Mavericks' legend hit a three in his face.
It provided some great levity as well when the TBS cameras captured Nowitzki thanking Simmons for not really D’ing him up on the play.
“Appreciate it, kid.”
Simmons had a chance to talk about what Nowitzki meant to him following his first All-Star Game victory.
“He is one of those guys that came over from overseas, dominated the game and changed it,” Simmons told reporters following the game. “Just the way he played the game, he played the right way, was not a selfish player, and was always willing to give the ball up and he could also score it. One of those guys who had a huge impact internationally for guys like me, Joel and so many others.”
Embiid also had the chance to share in a Dirk moment prior to the game when the two were interviewed together.
“When I started playing [basketball] back in 2011, one of my coaches gave a tape of all the great big men and [Dirk] was part of it. I remember the only move I used to do, I would catch the ball on the block, dribble, spin, and then his fadeaway off of one leg. I used to do it all the time. That’s when I started getting better and learning the game," Embiid said.
A smiling Nowitzki looks on and says how humbling it is to hear he inspired the next generation of stars.
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