In the special relationship of LeBron James and Luka Doncic to the Slovenian, who is waiting in front of the dressing room for the jersey of the idol
THE NBA has seen many young talents hastily heralded as the “next LeBron James” — but in the case of Luka Doncic, the comparison rings truer than ever.
At least that’s what James thinks. “The way he plays the game reminds me of the way I play the game,” the Los Angeles Lakers superstar said during All-Star Weekend 2022.
Wild recognizes wild – and the mood goes both ways.
Doncic doesn’t hide the fact that he idolizes James. He always has.
He entered the 2018 NBA draft as the youngest-ever EuroLeague MVP and Final Four MVP.
The 6-foot-7 guard helped Real Madrid lift the EuroLeague title earlier this year – having previously won the European Championship with Slovenia in 2017.
At 19, Doncic was already a full-fledged basketball star with years of professional experience.
But in his debut season with the Mavericks, he approached his first duel against James with the excitement of a young child going to Disneyland for the first time.
“I’ve been waiting for this game and it was very special for me,” he said at the time.
Despite his long resume and undeniable potential, many still viewed the Slovenian prodigy with skepticism ahead of the 2018 draft.
After all, he’s European – and the NBA’s Euro bias is real.
The Phoenix Suns picked Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 pick and the Sacramento Kings picked Marvin Bagley III right after that with the No. 1 pick. 2 before Adam Silver could name Doncic.
The Slovenian would never play for the team that drafted him as the Atlanta Hawks sent him to Dallas that same night in exchange for the rights to Trae Young and a protected 2019 first-rounder.
James, on the other hand, knew the Mavericks’ new No. 1 right away. 77 had a bright future when the two finally got together on the rookie’s “special” day.
Doncic amassed 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds as he and the Mavericks headed to LA for a clash with the Lakers.
And during the game, he got James to promise he’d get the four-time MVP’s game-worn jersey.
After the Mavericks fell 114-113, the young guard stood in the hallway of what was then the Staples Center and patiently awaited the big gift.
“I always wanted his jersey,” said Doncic at the time.
A team official eventually presented him with an autographed Lakers #23 top with a message from James that read, “To Luka D. God bless and keep striving for greatness.”
Since then, their careers have intertwined in many ways.
Doncic wowed the NBA from the start with 24.2 points per game before his 21st birthday. In all of league history, only James has averaged more before the age of 21.
Additionally, the Slovenian has played for Team LeBron every year since making his All-Star Game debut in 2020.
And the numbers show that James and Doncic have been basically the same player for the past three seasons.
As of the start of 2019-20, there have only been two players averaging at least 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists: LeBron and Luka.
It’s no coincidence that the Lakers and Mavericks will play each other on Christmas Day for the second time in three years.
The NBA usually reserves the vacation schedule for very special matchups — like a clash between the face of the league and its heir apparent.
And James has indicated on many occasions that he knows Doncic is the one.
“I love everything about his game. I love everything about him,” he said of the Mavs star during this year’s All-Star Weekend.
“We’re triple threats, we’re rebounding, we’re passing – that’s the most important thing on our mind, we’re trying to keep our teammates engaged, making our teammates feel good on the ground and our teammates staying in rhythm.
“And we will also give you 40 if you don’t respect us.”
Game recognizes game.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6965462/lebron-james-luka-doncic-nba-christmas-day/ In the special relationship of LeBron James and Luka Doncic to the Slovenian, who is waiting in front of the dressing room for the jersey of the idol