The Philadelphia 76ers escaped with a nail-biting 112-110 victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night, and their star youngsters, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, had plenty to do with it.
Each finished with 23 points, while Simmons added seven rebounds and eight assists, and Embiid had nine rebounds and four assists. They even combined on a highlight reel play in the first quarter, as Simmons threw a nifty pass around Nerlens Noel that Embiid capped with a 3-pointer.
But while the victory was great, the talented duo was perhaps more excited about the fact that they got to play against Dirk Nowitzki.
Simmons, for his part, said it was “awesome” to play against the legend, and added that he kept freaking out about it on the bench with J.J. Redick.
As for Embiid, he said he wanted to use Dirk’s iconic fadeaway against him, but unfortunately the ball got knocked out of his hands. Via ESPN:
It was a thrill for Joel Embiid to face Dirk Nowitzki for the first time. “I wanted to use his move against him. I almost did, but the ball got stripped.” Embiid worked out with Nowitzki in Africa this summer and calls him “one of my big brothers.”
It must have been a pretty special night for both Simmons and Embiid to not only play well, but earn a victory against a legend like Dirk. Their reaction to playing against him is also a good reminder that even though they’re in the league, players are still huge fans of other guys on the league just like the rest of us.