After plummeting in the Western Conference standings in the second half of the season and thus being disqualified from the play-in tournament, the Dallas Mavericks are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2023 season. A big part of their success will be the All-Star pairing of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, who they acquired at the trade deadline and inked to a 3-year, $120 million deal in July.
But the Mavericks got quite the scare during the FIBA matchup between Greece and Slovenia on August 4. Doncic, who plays for the Slovenian men’s basketball team, bumped knees with an opposing player from Greece and had to exit the game early and did not return.
However, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, there are “no concerns” about Luka’s health at the moment.
““No concerns,” a source tells ESPN after Luka Doncic banged knees during Slovenia’s exhibition loss to Greece today. Doncic exited early as a precaution,” MacMahon tweeted on August 4.
Should NBA Players Participate in Offseason Hoops?
Thankfully for Luka and the Mavericks, the injury to their star does not appear to be serious. But it brings an important question to the forefront. That is whether it is a good idea for NBA players to participate in competitive off-season basketball.
Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George was not as fortunate as Doncic when he suffered a gruesome leg injury during a 2014 Team USA scrimmage that held him out until April of the following season.
Basketball is played at a much faster pace than it has been in previous years, which leaves players more susceptible to injury. With the NBA season already a marathon at 82 games, it may be wise for players to use the entire offseason to recover.
Kyrie Irving Sounds off on Kobe Bryant
Irving was the hero of the 2016 NBA Finals when he hit a go-ahead 3-pointer in Game 7 and willed his Cleveland Cavaliers to a title win over the Golden State Warriors despite trailing 3-1 in the series. During a 2022 Twitch stream, Irving credited the late Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant. The Mavs guard said Bryant gave him advice that ultimately helped him push the Cavs to the franchise’s first-ever title.
“’ You can’t give a f*** about what people say,’” Irving said Bryant told him. “’ And if you are paying attention to what people say, stop! Stop paying attention to all that b*******. People are going to talk about you anyway. Just be you. Don’t take a backseat to anybody, just be you.”
After the Cavs went down 3-1 in the 2016 Finals, Irving said he called Bryant for advice again. But the late Hall of Famer didn’t have to say much to Irving, who was 23 years old at the time. Irving said he already knew how to approach the rest of the series, and the result was the Cavaliers making a historic comeback.
“We get down 3-1, and I just remember there was a calm that we had about us. We just knew that we were going to do something special. I just remember calling Kobe,” Irving continued.
“He just said, ‘I think you know what I’m going to say.’ And the rest is history. Won my first ‘chip, I saw my dad and my sister afterward, but the first people I called were Kobe and Gigi. Those were the first people I called after I won the ‘chip because it happened. Everything he said I needed to do; I did. I followed the blueprint. And we won.”