Knicks F Kristaps Porzingis and Dallas Mavericks legend F Dirk Nowitzki both exchanged positive words about each other's game, per NBA.com's Shaun Powell.
Both playing for Team World at the NBA Africa Game in Johannsburg on Saturday, they were teammates for the first time, and Porzingis took advantage of the opportunity by picking his role model's brain.
"He's a guy I've always looked up to," Porzingis said. "It's not fair for me to be compared to a legend like him."
"I'm asking him all kinds of questions about anything. I'm interested in his experiences, his rookie year, his second, third and fourth year. We're just talking about basketball and non basketball stuff."
But Nowitzki had only good things to say about the 22-year-old Latvian as well.
"He's the real deal," he said. "He's going to be fun to watch for a long, long time."
Many have compared Porzingis to Nowitzki as both as European stars in the NBA. The German-born Nowitzki praised Porzingis's maturity while noting his skillset at his height is one of a kind.
"I like him a lot, both on and off the floor," Nowitzki said. "He's a tremendous talent. He's the whole package. He's got his head on straight, he's working hard, wants to get better and leaer. On the court, I don't think we've seen a 7-foot-3 guys shoot it and put it on the floor like that, block shots like that."
As Porzingis wanted to get to know Nowitzki, the man who became the sixth player in NBA history to amass 30,000 points last season, the feeling was mutual.
"I just wanted to get to know him a bit better because during the season there's no time," Nowitzki said. "You say 'hi', you say 'bye', even though we exchanged phone numbers when he was first in the league but really didn't have a lot of contact. This week there have been opportunities to talk. Just about hoops in general."
Porzingis has become a breakout star in his first two NBA seasons with the Knicks. He posted 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game last season.
Though he has shown immediate success, Nowitzki's one piece of advice is to never believe you can't improve.
"The only advice I would give young guys is to keep your ears and eyes open," Nowitzki said. "Never see yourself as a finished product. You always want to improve, learn from the veterans on the team. I think he's on the right track. He's doing all of that and more. I think he's going to be great."
Nowitzki, who is entering his 20th season in the NBA this year, has been the gold standard for not only European players, but NBA players in general. He has played with the Mavs his entire career, and has won a championship.
Porzingis only hopes that he can emulate his success in his own career.
"I mean, obviously it's not easy to do that at a high level for so long," Porzingis said. "Hopefully I can do the same. I'm my own player and there are some similarities, but to be hoenst I'm learning from him still."
At the NBA Africa Game, Porzingis poured in 14 points on 55.6 percent shooting while Nowitzki knocked down a lone three on the night.