Had the Dallas Mavericks pulled off a miraculous, come-from-behind victory against the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night, the headlines might have been different. They would would have sung the praises of Luka Doncic who fell his idol, LeBron James, at the Staples Center. Instead, they were peppered with Wesley Matthew’s egregious mistake in the waning seconds of the game. There is, however, a Doncic and James story of note and it’s one that seems like it’s taken straight from a movie.
After the game, as the Mavericks sulked in defeat, Doncic did something reminiscent of a fan, groupie, or contest winner. He waited outside the Lakers’ locker room to receive James’ jersey he wore that night.
Look, I get it. Doncic is a teenager living out his childhood dream and played against his basketball idol. He was also probably feeling himself a little bit after an almost flawless final quarter and nearly sending the game into overtime with a baseline fadeaway.
But if I’m being honest, this is a weird look. This isn’t like the NFL where players exchange jerseys and pose for photos. Doncic and James arranged the gift mid-game—MID-GAME—and after the final buzzer, the rookie waited outside of the locker room for his prize. And James DIDN’T EVEN BRING HIM THE JERSEY, a Lakers’ team official did.
“I always wanted his jersey,” Doncic told reporters afterwards. “It was something special to me.”
Sure, I understand that. Join the club.
The more I thought about this, though, the more it seemed familiar. It was like I was having déjà vu. I couldn’t figure out why at first. Then it hit me.
You remember Calvin, right? He’s the main character from the movie Like Mike played by Lil Bow Wow.
The whole Doncic and LeBron jersey situation plays out almost exactly as Cambridge asking Allen Iverson for his autograph during pre-game warmups. If you remember, he’s wearing Michael Jordan’s magic shoes and is wide-eyed seeing his idol put up shots across the court.
Cambridge, starstruck, moseys over to Iverson and requests the signature. That whole interaction ends when Cambridge’s veteran teammate picks him up (literally) and tells him “players don’t ask players for autographs”. Iverson was incredulous.
Ignore the poor quality - the movie debuted in 2002.
The similarities are uncanny.
Cambridge and Doncic are both teenagers. Both had a slew of doubters but quickly proved them wrong as soon as they stepped on the court. Both are dynamic playmakers with the ball in their hands. Both liked to play video games in their free time. Shall I keep going?
All jokes aside, Doncic’s Calvin Cambridge moment is nothing to lose sleep over. I’ll also be frank and say tomorrow I truly won’t care about this, and this is definitely not a big deal. I’ll even play devil’s advocate a little bit and say basketball is a game, and it’s fun. It’s nice to see these players act human. They are all fans of each other’s game. Doncic did get to share the court with his idol after all.
But at the end of they day, this wasn’t the best look after the Mavericks dropped their fifth straight game. After Doncic’s teammate made a costly mistake. After they lost another game they very likely could have won. Doncic isn’t watching James from afar anymore. He stands in between Doncic and the Mavericks’ goals this season. Get the jersey another time.