When Luka Doncic started the 2020 All-Star game, he became the first Dallas Maverick to do so since Dirk Nowitzki in 2007 and the first to be voted in since Jason Kidd in 1996.
Pretty poetic, considering he tied Kidd’s franchise record for triple-doubles (21) in his last game as a 20 year old against San Antonio on Wednesday.
That record book-eraser was the latest accomplishment for the Slovenian guard, among milestones which seem to be coming every other week.
He leads the league in triple-doubles with 13.
He’s the first player in NBA history to post multiple 30+ points, 12 rebounds and 15+ assists in a game with 30 or fewer minutes. He’s done it a couple times this season. No one else has ever done it in their career.
Doncic has been so good, so quickly that one almost has to normalize the otherworldly start to his career just to keep the ever-expanding expectations in check.
For context, Donic reached Kidd’s record 381 games sooner than the Maverick legend and 2011 World Champion, the equivalent of four and a half NBA seasons.
Doncic matched Kidd in being named Rookie of the Year prior to their first All-Star selection, although Kidd’s first All-Star game saw him start for the West at 22.
Two generations apart, incredibly similar situations.
Kidd was recognized for infusing the worst team of the 90’s with a youthful swagger and winner's mentality not seen since the 88’ Mavs pushed the eventual League champion Los Angeles Lakers to seven games in the Western Conference Finals.
Led by Doncic, the 2020 Mavericks have already surpassed last season’s win total of 33 with 7 weeks of games left.
Doncic is averaging 28.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists for the season, and in a year and a half, has brought back realistic playoff hopes to the fanbase while easing the transition from the emotional retirement of the team’s greatest player after Nowitzki hung ‘em up last summer.
Judging by some of the hard fouls, non-calls, and even coach hate that has come Doncic’s way, some opponents may not be feeling the Luka love.
Apart from some portions of NBA Twitter (mostly Atlanta), that viewpoint isn’t really shared off the court. Luka only trailed “The King” LeBron James in the Western Conference backcourt for overall votes, and led next-in-line former NBA MVP James Harden by 2.3 Million(!).
Doncic has acquiesced the league’s fan support explicitly and quickly. Doncic has proven to be the rare sensation with actual substance.
As Doncic’s play and the Mavericks expectations have risen, so has his ascension into pop culture, having global superstar Bad Bunny wear his jersey at his Dallas concert (and Luka singing along to every song in Spanish), and even having his own parody song from a Slovenian imposter.
Dirk may have been the first European-born player to ever grace an All-Star starting lineup, but Luka was the youngest. He will also be the first European-born player to have his own Air Jordan signature shoe. Now that’s a flex.
If winning Rookie of the Year in the 2018-2019 season didn’t quiet his critics, surely hitting the NOS and being a consensus top 5 pick for league MVP in his sophomore season has the Kings and Suns kicking themselves for letting the third overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft celebrate his birthday as a member of the Mavericks.
EuroLeague MVP at 19. All-Star at 20. Happy 21st, Luka. Keep the milestones coming.
Share your Luka well wishes on this hallowed day with Irvin on Twitter @Twittirv.