The National Basketball Association (NBA) has a multitude of bright young stars, and among them is none other than Dallas Mavericks sophomore sensation Luka Dončić. The guard/small forward was a unanimous member of the 2018-19 All-Rookie Team is his debut season one year ago, and he was also crowned the NBA Rookie of the Year for the 2018-19 campaign.
Now in his sophomore year for the Mavs, Dončić already has a plethora of triple-doubles, including a game versus San Antonio in November when he recorded a career-high 42 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 12 assists.
Chicago basketball fans are in for a treat when the 69th NBA All-Star game comes to the Windy City on February 16 — and Dončić is a big reason why. And while you likely already know how good of a basketball player Dončić is on the court, he’s still relatively new to the league and North American basketball fans.
On that note, let’s take a look at 16 of the things you (probably) didn’t know about Luka Dončić:
1. Slovenian roots
Dončić was born in Ljubljana, the largest city in Slovenia, with a population of about 300,000. Despite being Slovenia’s largest city, the size still pales in comparison to Dallas, the city Dončić currently calls “home.” Dallas has a population of about 1.3 million people, more than three times as great as that of Ljubljana.
2. Luka Played For Real Madrid In Spain
Just three years before he would make his NBA debut, Dončić debuted for Real Madrid in Spain. At the age of 15, his debut for the Spanish basketball club’s senior team made him the youngest player in history to do so. But what makes this feat even more impressive is how Dončić moved from his native Slovenia to Spain as a teenager for the opportunity.
In doing so, he also learned how to speak Spanish to better assimilate to his new home. Though he left behind his family and friends in making the Slovenia to Spain move, he says it’s something that he doesn’t regret doing at all.
3. He’s a EuroBasket champ
Dončić may be chasing an NBA Championship with the Mavericks, but he’s already got a few notable titles to his name. With Real Madrid, he won a 2018 EuroLeague title and was crowned EuroLeague MVP. A year earlier, he led the senior Slovenia national team to a EuroBasket title.
It was Slovenia’s first EuroBasket championship in history. You can see why he was called the most prepared NBA prospect to ever come out of Europe.
In addition to speaking his native Slovenian tongue and Spanish, Dončić also speaks Serbian and English. That’s four languages that Dončić speaks for those of you counting at home. In fact, he says that it was learning Spanish that really helped him become more comfortable in Spain after leaving Slovenia to play for Real Madrid.
5. Dončić’s Dogs: Hugo and Gia
Dončić has two pets, both dogs. One is a Pomeranian (Hugo), and the other is a White Swiss Shepherd (Gia). You could say he’s a dog lover, and if you follow either him or his girlfriend on Instagram, you’ll have seen numerous pictures of his pooches.
6. “A 6-foot-7 Steve Nash”
That’s how Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban affectionately described Dončić upon acquiring him from the Atlanta Hawks following the 2018 NBA Draft. The now-retired Nash, on the other hand, referred to Dončić as a “dream prospect.”
We’re betting that Cuban and Mavs fans are pretty pleased with Dončić in just his second year in the NBA. For the record, Dončić said he was flattered by the Steve Nash comparison.
7. Basketball from the beginning
There’s a common trend among star athletes, and it’s how early they took a liking to the game. You hear about NHL stars skating before they could walk, golfers learning to swing a club at an early age, etc.
Dončić is said to have had a basketball in his hands when he was just seven months old. He began playing organized basketball when he was around 7 years old. Part of this is likely due to his father’s professional basketball career in Slovenia, but it’s still impressive.
8. He’s a big gamer
— Luka Doncic (@luka7doncic) August 11, 2018
Like most people his age, Dončić is a big video game fan. In fact, according to a profile by ESPN, he used to spend anywhere from 2 to 3 hours per day playing video games while at home when he was playing in Spain. He even had an ergonomic chair designed specifically for video gameplay that he camped out in while he gamed.
His favorite games, you ask? FIFA and Overwatch. We’re not so sure he has a ton of time to play video games during the NBA season now, but we’re betting that it gets competitive on road trips with his teammates.
9. He used to be a ball boy
Dončić’s father, Sasa, also played high-level basketball, though not in the NBA, but in a Slovenian professional league. He actually won a championship in 2008, when his son — you guessed it, Luka — served as the ball boy. Basketball is in the Dončić genes, but it’s safe to say that Luka has already far exceeded the career of his father.
10. He lived with his mom
Actually, his mom lived with him while he was playing for Real Madrid in Spain. When Dončić moved to Spain, his mother decided to come over with him to help him adjust to life in the country. We’re guessing the home cooking was a nice touch too.
11. Speaking of mom… She Was A Model
She’s (Mirjam Poterbin) got some good genes on her side of the family as well. In fact, she used to be a hurdler and a dancer. She also worked as a model. When we tell you that his mother has a bit of her own fan club among NBA and basketball fans, you might now understand why. Some of his NBA peers have made some interesting comments about her. We’ll leave it at that.
12. Luka’s dating lingerie model Anamaria Goltes
Since 2016, Dončić has been dating a Slovenian lingerie model, Anamaria Goltes. While you might think that Dončić only began dating Goltes because he’s a famous basketball star, the two have actually known each other since 2011.
Aside from a brief breakup before the 2018 NBA Draft, Dončić and Goltes have been nearly inseparable and are always appearing in each other’s Instagram posts.
13. He’s only 20
This one is fairly obvious, but it’s worth stopping to pause for a moment and remember that Dončić is still just 20 years old and has accomplished so much professionally. He’ll officially turn 21 on February 28, 2020, and he can celebrate by being legal drinking age in the United States.
14. His Nickname Is Wonderboy
Dončić has a few different nicknames, but none may be more significant than “Wonderboy.” He was actually given the nickname by a Spanish newspaper when he was playing for Real Madrid. If you’ve watched any of his game at all since he broke into the league, it’s easy to see why he earned that nickname.
15. He’s part of an All-Decade Team
The EuroLeague 2010-20 All-Decade Team, to be specific. But in another 10 years, he might find himself on the 2020-30 NBA All-Decade team if he keeps this kind of play up.
16. The Sacramento Kings passed on him for an odd reason
Dončić made two basketball teams look foolish for passing on him in the 2018 NBA Entry Draft, and one of those teams was the Sacramento Kings.
But the reason that the Kings didn’t take Dončić is for a strange reason — Kings GM Vlade Divac allegedly didn’t think much of Luka’s dad and worried that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Hence passing on Dončić for Marvin Bagley III. Yeah, that wasn’t a great decision.
17. He was the first NBA Player under 20 to get a triple-double
Luka achieved this playing the Toronto Raptors on January 27th, 2019. Unfortunately, the Mavericks lost 120-123, but the record remains nonetheless. After the game, Luka remained humble and just wanted a victory.
‘For me, what matters is the victory, it was special for sure, but it would be even more if we got the win.’
Luka’s also the youngest player in NBA history to record three triple-doubles.
18. He’s endorsed by the Air Jordan Brand
The official news recently came out after Doncic spent some time considering his options, quite a spot to be in for a second-year player. The iconic Jorand brand is a turnoff for some players, as they don’t want to be always under the brand of a former player, but dor Doncic, it made sense.
For younger players in the NBA today, the Jordan brand seems less intimidating. Here’s what Luka had to say about the agreement:
It’s a real honor to be part of the Jordan family, especially at such an exciting time for them and for me,” Doncic said in a Jordan Brand release. “I’m looking forward to working with the team and hopefully making my own mark on the future of the brand.
19. He’s a massive soccer fan!
In a series of Tweets, Luka made it clear that he’s a Real Madrid soccer fanatic!
— Luka Doncic (@luka7doncic) December 29, 2019
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