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Luka Doncic needs to tune the noise out

Doncic let his frustrations get the better of him following a 132-109 blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns.

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Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

Tension spilled out during the post-game press conference following the Dallas Mavericks loss to the Phoenix Suns that led to a seemingly heated exchange between Luka Doncic and ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

What felt like an encouraging first half for the Mavericks where they found themselves up by 16 points in the second quarter quickly came to a screeching halt as the Suns went on a 25-10 run during the final seven minutes of the quarter. Doncic was assessed a technical foul at the end of the second quarter for complaining, according to the Pool Report. Crew Chief David Guthrie stated that Doncic was asked to stop, but ignored the request as he continued to yell at the officials as he was leaving the floor.

By the intermission, the game still felt attainable for the Mavericks as they held a one-point lead; however, they came into the second half and ultimately allowed Phoenix to have a 25-point lead midway through the third quarter.

When Mavericks coach Jason Kidd called a timeout during the midway point of the quarter, Doncic had enough heckling from a Suns fan, leading to him pointing out the fan to arena staff, and the fan was ultimately sent into the arena’s concourse to watch the remainder of the game.

The video below shows the moment that Doncic pointed the fan out to the arena staff.

The Mavericks were never able to mount a comeback and ultimately fell 132-109. Following the game, Doncic had a tense discussion with MacMahon, insinuating that MacMahon was trying to portray him in a negative light and make him out to be the bad guy. Doncic told MacMahon when asked about the technical foul he’d received after the first half that he knew MacMahon would be the first to put something out about the fan’s removal from his seat. The remainder of the exchange can be found below.

Note that MacMahon wasn’t the only reporter to tweet about the interaction, with reporters from both teams posting about the incident. Feelings on the matter aside, it is evident that Doncic needs to tune the noise out on the floor and remain focused on the game. It is worth noting that this comes just one game after Kidd told the media that the Mavericks needed to be better when it comes to easily being frustrated at officiating. There have been more “we need to get better” comments made than actions showing that they are indeed trying to cut the bad habit.

Granted, Doncic wasn’t the only Maverick who was assessed a technical foul for complaining, as teammate Grant Williams was ejected after he received his second technical foul for yelling at an official for what he thought was a foul from Phoenix’s Jusuf Nurkic. But Williams isn’t the team’s superstar or the team’s leader.

When Doncic loses his focus on the court, other Mavericks quickly follow in his footsteps. Instances where we see Doncic hanging out in the backcourt, arguing over missed calls instead of transitioning to defense are far too many.

This is not to say that Doncic isn’t wrong in his arguments to refs or that they make the correct calls. I see Doncic get clobbered nearly every game and it goes uncalled. I understand that this gets frustrating for someone as competitive as Doncic. With that being said, he needs to take into account how his frustrations with officiating affect the rest of the team. The officials aren’t going to change their minds after making incorrect calls that go unchallenged. The only effect it has is on his teammates when it leads to lapses on the defensive end and often other Mavericks follow suit. Dallas needs all five players on the floor to make a conscious effort on defense, and it starts with the leader of the team.

He now has nine technical fouls on the season and is seven away from receiving a one-game suspension with 38 games remaining in the season. The Mavericks cannot afford for Doncic to miss games if he isn’t injured.

He’s on the brink of turning 25. Most 20-something-year-olds haven’t reached their peak maturity, so it’s not like it’s some sort of phenomenon to see this come from Doncic. With that being said, with the current timeline the Mavericks are on with Doncic’s costar in Kyrie Irving being 31, the Mavericks don’t have many more seasons to waste to build a contending team.

It is a blessing to be a fan of a basketball team with a player as special as Doncic. Night in and night out, I find myself with my mouth agape, shocked at a no-look pass or a step-back three-pointer from the left wing from Doncic. As fans, we want him to succeed as much as he wants to succeed. We want another championship in Dallas just as badly as Doncic wants to win his first NBA championship, he is the heart and soul of this team. We’ve seen him have a change in perspective when it comes to his body, with him coming into the season in shape. He has shown that he can take his craft seriously.

For Doncic to take the Mavericks to the next level and prevent a repeat of last season, he must try to tune the noise out on the floor. Too much of the Mavericks’ success hinges on what he does for this squad. As one of the best offensive players this league has ever seen, they need him to be at his peak night in and night out physically and mentally. I wholeheartedly believe that he is capable of getting there.