The Dallas Mavericks got quite the scare during the FIBA matchup between Greece and Slovenia on August 4. Their franchise player, Luka Doncic, who plays for the Slovenian team, bumped knees with an opposing player from Greece, exited the game early, and did not return.
Luka has since recovered and has shined brightly for his hometown team during the FIBA tournament. However, Slovenian National Team head coach Aleksander Sekulic tells Grant Afseth of Sports Illustrated that the Mavericks superstar has still taken a significant beating during tournament play.
“Like I always say, he [Doncic] takes a lot of hits during a game,” Sekulic said of Doncic’s health.” Teams try to play physically with him, and there’s a lot of contact, and he needs to deal with a lot of contact, and it’s not easy, and it hurts him a little bit. Hopefully, we are going to find a way to protect him.”
Luka’s Teammate Sounds off on His Conditioning
Before tournament play started, Luka shared that he sometimes still feels the effects of the injury he suffered following the NBA All-Star break, which, in turn, has impacted his play during the tournament.
“It is an old injury, which caused me problems in March in the NBA,” Doncic said to Sports Illustrated in August before the start of FIBA play. “Therefore, we performed an MRI. Everything is okay. Nothing worse.”
Although the Slovenia star is still nursing nagging injuries, it has not affected the four-time All-Star’s physical conditioning. Per Doncic’s Slovenian teammate, Mike Tobey, Doncic has emphasized “taking care of his body” this summer.
“He looks fresh, and in shape, he’s really taking care of his body and himself a lot more seriously this summer,” Tobey said to Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops.net.
“You can tell it by his nutrition, by how he looks: he’s in a lot better shape. I really see a big step forward in that part of his professionalism. He seems to be more focused.”
Mark Cuban Sounds off on Luka and Kyrie Irving
The Mavericks had high playoff hopes when they acquired Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets in February, especially after punching their ticket to the Western Conference Finals in 2022. But those hopes fell flat after the trade, and they plummeted in the Western Conference standings after the All-Star break and missed the playoffs.
Some do not believe it is a coincidence that the Mavericks started losing after the Kyrie trade and that perhaps he and Luka Doncic, despite having the star power, are not the best pairing. But Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban views things from a different perspective.
“When you look at last year, we had issues that had nothing to do with Kyrie or Luka playing together. Just between injuries and everything, we just didn’t have a team that committed to their roles. The year before when we went to the Western Conference Finals, everybody knew their role, everybody just played their role perfectly. This past year, that was not the case,” Cuban said on the “Pat Bev Podcast” in August.
“And it wasn’t Kyrie or Luka, as they knew their roles, but once other guys start playing for themselves or not playing for the team, every mistake that you could possibly have is just magnified to no end.”