I spend a lot of time talking to and interacting with basketball fans and other writers on the internet. That’s the reality of it, I live on the other side of the world from Dallas, and far away from most Dallas Mavericks fans, basketball writers and basketball fans.
Almost every week, I talk to people from Slovenia, Serbia, Germany, the US, Colombia, France, Sweden, Canada, Mexico, Spain, the Philippines and probably many other places. A lot of these people are very knowledgeable about basketball and they have a unique interest in the game. Also, many of these people are deeply inspired by Luka Dončić.
And since so many of us relate to him so deeply, his otherworldly abilities and talent all of a sudden seem within reach. Things beyond us all of a sudden seem achievable, the impossible seems possible.
Luka’s relatability reminds us of the greatness that could’ve been, the path not chosen, the door left unopened. The talent we had that we never explored, the magic left in the box.
And because he inspires so many people, a large number of fans follow his every move. Every emotion he may or may not show in pictures, clips and games, his weight, his family and his dogs. They care about what he wears and how people talk about him.
One of the cool parts about international basketball is the fans that get to watch games involving players they don’t usually get to see. One family flew from China to see Luka Doncic and got their jerseys autographed after Slovenia’s practice today. pic.twitter.com/g8hPSS4r62— Grant Afseth (@GrantAfseth) September 2, 2023
Others admire his vast basketball skills and ability to change the game, and they will go through hell on the internet to defend him.
Then there’s the fans, who are inspired by Luka, but also see his flaws and try to view him as a human being, and hold on to his potential to develop even further.
What all these fans share, even the ones who don’t belong in my boxes, is a feeling of connection with Luka Dončić. They see themselves in his anger towards the referees, they see themselves in the weight struggles and the passion for the game. They see themselves in him as a foreigner in a new country, trying to find his way.
We saw that at this year’s World Cup, where it came as a surprise to many just how deeply loved Luka Dončić is around the world. No one received more applause than him. No one had more fans from other nations wearing his jersey, both Slovenia and Mavericks. People named their kids after him. No one was as sought after by fans and media as much as him.
In Slovenias final game at the FIBA World Cup, @Lukadoncic threw his shoes into the crowd and gave his TCL player of the match trophy to a fan which named after him.— BNA (@AusBballnews) September 9, 2023
@FIBAWC #FIBAworldcup2023 #basketballworldcup2023 #Australia #slovenia #nba #FIBA #LukaDoncic pic.twitter.com/VeUlE11Jly
He was the star of the show. Someone we can relate to, whether we’re thin or thick, short or tall, black or white, European or American - or from anywhere else in the world where he’s a favorite. Whether we struggle with stress, have issues with our families or can’t control our temper when things feel unfair.
The magic of Luka Dončić isn’t just his skills on the court. It’s also his unique ability to perhaps inspire more people personally, than we may ever have seen one single player do. And that’s why Luka Dončić is the real face of the league to come.