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Luka Magic

Everyone in the world knows Luka. Even those who don’t care about sports are well-aware of who Luka Dončić is. He is a great basketball player, an unprecedented talent who sets one record after another. He is a kind and playful guy with a great sense of humour. He is beyond doubt Slovenian pride and joy.

Luka has charisma, a passion that shines through his actions. With his fantastic playing, he creates such a charged atmosphere that brings the whole sports hall to its feet anywhere he plays.

In Dallas, where he is playing his second season in the world's best basketball league, he is an absolute star. He shook up the team and introduced a new winning mentality.

A young guy from Europe who has just recently made it to the NBA scene is breaking records, impressing crowds and pundits alike with his fantastic and incredibly mature game. Wherever he appears, he captures the attention of sports journalists, competitors and, of course, spectators. There is a great demand for basketball gear sporting the number 77 that Luka wears. The number of people marketing Luka's name and of course his club's name has increased as well. Dallas acknowledges on a daily basis how wise their selection was and how great the talent their team acquired.

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A Slovenian hero

In Slovenia, we are greeted every morning by sports radio news, reporting time and again on some new success that Luka has achieved. Listening to this news brings a smile to our faces, as we can only imagine how well he played again that night and what record he broke again. And then, with pride, we watch the footage of his inspirational game as soon as we can. Luka is a hero to us Slovenians, but personally, I am deeply moved by his compassion and his willingness to bring happiness to those who are not as fortunate as he himself is. We have often seen footage of how he donates his gear to children. The smile on the face of a child receiving the precious gift is something that makes Luka even bigger in my eyes.

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    Luka Dončić gives his sneakers away to a young fan after the game, 2019 Photo: Adam Pantozzi, NBA, GettyImages/GulliverFilm&Foto

What has made him what he is now? Probably the sum of everything that surrounded him in his life.

A basketball player from an early age

His mother, Ms Mirjam Poterbin, plays a big role in Luka's life, always accompanying him and supporting him on his life path. His father, Mr Saša Dončić, a former Slovenian basketball player and now a basketball coach, was his first contact with basketball. Luka started at the age of seven, first playing basketball in elementary school. His first club, however, was Union Olimpija. Because of his outstanding performances, he left for Real Madrid very soon, at the age of thirteen. At the time, he had to show a lot of determination, independence and of course flexibility, and there is no doubt that life was often difficult for him. If you go to a foreign country so young, knowing neither people nor the language, you have to be very brave and self-confident. No doubt Luka had to grow up quickly. In Madrid, he trained and went to school. He debuted in the Spanish First League at the age of 16, becoming the youngest player in club history. He excelled in the 2016/17 season, when he also played as one of Real Madrid's top-five players for the first time and demonstrated his talent in the EuroLeague. That season, he also earned the coveted EuroLeague Rising Star Trophy.

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The year 2017 was a very special year for Slovenian basketball as our long-awaited dreams came true.

In 2017, Slovenia's basketball players became European champions.

At the EuroBasket final in Istanbul, they defeated Serbian champions in front of 7,000 Slovenian spectators in the stands after an incredibly dramatic game. At that time, the team was headed by Goran Dragić, who was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the championship. The excellent Luka Dončić was ranked among the tournament’s top-five players.

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A Slovenian in the NBA draft

A special milestone for Luka Dončić was on 21 June 2018, when he was selected in the 2018 NBA draft with the third overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks, who promptly traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for their fifth pick. Luka Dončić entered the NBA as the 12th Slovenian.

From that moment on, Luka has been shining again and again.

He has won many awards, including the 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.

The award is given to the season’s best new player, which Luka undoubtedly was. He is a playmaker, but can also be a point guard, shooting guard and small forward. Luka not only collects points and distributes assists, but also records rebounds, as his statistics show. Just a few days ago, we listened to how he again achieved a triple-double. When reporters talk to him about his statistics and his scores, he always remains humble and emphasises that he is only interested in his team's success. He is not delighted with his own great performance if his team does not win. Despite his great success, Luka has remained what he is, a young guy who loves to have fun and enjoys himself immensely when playing basketball. For us who remain in Slovenia, however, he is Luka Magic.

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Author: Tea Knaflič

Date: 6. December 2019

Time to read: 4 min