The NBA 2K20 kicked off Friday night on ESPN, and if you had literally anything else to do and didn’t catch it, well that’s perfectly ok. It was exactly what you’d expect it to be, watching two people play a video game with very little commentary. It made the TNT Players Only broadcast seem like a polished production.
Kevin Durant and Derrick Jones Jr. (RIP to his almost Maverick career) started the evening off, followed by DeAndre Ayton vs. Zach LaVine, then Harrison Barnes vs. Trae Young and capped off with Patrick Beverley vs. Hassan Whiteside.
Beverley vs. Whiteside was by far the most entertaining. The game started innocently enough until Beverley took a 10 point lead. That’s when the trash talk flood gates opened.
However, the most interesting Maverick-related nugget occurred when Barnes and Young bantered during their lopsided match (Young defeated Barnes 101-59).
To break the dead air, Barnes asked Young who was his favorite player to play against. Young answered with Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard. When the question was posed to Barnes he replied with LeBron James which drove the answer to other players Barnes played against that he watched growing up. He mentioned playing against Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, but he also mentioned playing with Dirk.
And I have to admit, my respect grew for Young because after Barnes listed off the names of all those legends, Young’s response was: “That’s crazy, bro ... What was it like playing with Dirk?”
Thinking of where to begin Barnes’ immediately replied by saying Dirk “was the best” and that he was “hilarious” to which Young interjected and explained the stories he heard second-hand from NBA legend Vince Carter (who played two seasons in Dallas and has been teammates with Young the past two seasons):
“Yeah, that’s what I heard. Obviously, I played with Vince Carter. He had so many stories about Dirk and how funny he is and how good of a dude he is, too.”
Barnes’ response summed up exactly why Dirk is so revered across the NBA:
“Yeah, I mean he works super hard. I mean, he’s a killer on the floor, but he always makes sure he has fun. You know what I’m saying? And everyone around him has fun. It’s never a job, you know what I’m saying? And he would definitely remind you of that.”
Every teammate of Dirk has stories of his legendary work ethic and his rare sense of humor, whether he’s singing songs on Nick Van Exel’s voicemails, driving rookies to the airport or simply displaying the self-deprecating hilarity he’s known for, it’s fun to see Nowitzki’s lore being talked about unscripted on a Friday night between a veteran and a rookie playing video games while the NBA is in unprecedented territory.