There are not many recent moments in Mavs history that had the American Airlines Center buzzing as much as Luka Doncic’s 11-0 run late in the 4th quarter of Saturday’s game did.
The 19 year-old rookie was having a tough game entering the final stretch where his team trailed by 8. The teammate Wesley Matthews found him in the corner for an open three pointer and the avalanche began.
One step-back three against Rockets big man Clint Capela closed the lead to 2, then Doncic drove to his left to get into the paint and make a nice floater to tie it at 102. Then after the Mavericks got a stop on defense with a James Harden airball on a three point shot, Doncic found himself isolated on the perimeter against Capela again and… well, you’ve seen it by now but here you go anyway…
Luka Doncic is BIG TIME
Air strum for the celebration 🎸 pic.twitter.com/Y6BI9mE6nb
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 9, 2018
The moment sent the basketball world into a frenzy. Mavs fans in the arena were as loud as a June 2011 crowd and NBA Twitter was losing its mind over the 19 year-old Slovenian. NBA Twitter even included a member of the 2018 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame and former Mavericks playmaker Steve Nash.
Goodness gracious https://t.co/1QDDyl3NGr
— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) December 9, 2018
It was the moment of the night in the basketball world and it just adds to the growing-by-the-day legend of Luka Doncic. He’s guaranteed for at least one “Oh ____” moment a game, if not more, and his coach recognizes it.
“It was special,” said Rick Carlisle after the game. “It’s pretty clear that he has a flair for the moment, which is something you don’t see everyday.” Carlisle has done a good job in not just drooling all over Doncic whenever the media tries to set him up to do it this season, but last night was a night where he couldn’t help himself.
Whenever Doncic spoke with the media after the game, he tried his best to stay humble, but his belief in himself was apparent. He has made big plays on a big stage before over in Europe, but now he’s making them on the NBA stage where the lights shine brightest. What was the key to him being able to bring that big-time playmaking ability across the pond?
“I always say it’s just basketball,” Luka said in his patented low, aw-shucks delivery to a tightly packed bunch of reporters around his locker that flooded in front of Jalen Brunson’s and Salah Mejri’s locker on either side. “If you’re going to make shots over there in Europe, or you’re going to make shots over here. Just confidence, you know?”
That confidence and swagger is another piece of the puzzle that has made Luka one of the biggest stories in basketball in the national media this season. Every night, someone like World Wide Wob will share a Doncic highlight on Twitter. The Mavs are again being mentioned on the numerous talking head shows over on ESPN. Media superstars like Bill Simmons and Marc Stein are spending an hour on their successful podcast talking about Doncic. The biggest buzz surrounding him may be the song that has swept the nation:
This all came to a head when the singer/songwriter duo of Isaac Lee and Jason Gallagher of The Ringer came to the American Airlines Center to perform the song live for the crowd midway through the second quarter of Saturday’s game. Whether or not it was incredibly awkward for Doncic and how the performance went too long to squeeze into a common timeout during a game, the Mavs seemed to handle it playfully well.
After the game, multiple Mavs were singing the song as the media leaked into the locker room. DeAndre Jordan was the loudest as he said that Doncic-favorite Bad Bunny should be included on a remix of the song. Salah Mejri, whose locker is just to the right of the rookie, urged the media to lead off their questions by asking about the song. Luka sheepishly giggled and tried to change the subject, but showed his appreciation for the song.
Simply put: it has been over seven years (June 2011) since Mavericks basketball was this exciting to follow. Sure, there have been a couple 49 or 50 win seasons wedged in there, but ever since Dirk Nowitzki’s prime, Mavs fans haven’t had a player like this to cheer each and every night.
Even though Dallas is just 24 games into the season, Luka-Mania definitely reached its all-time high last night. Let’s just hope there are many more nights like Saturday to come this season. Maybe even in late April or May when the stakes are even higher. If the Luka and the Mavs continue this winning pace, they’ll get their chance.
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