Luka Doncic following in mentor Nowitzki’s record breaking path
On Christmas Day, the Dallas Mavericks unveiled a statue to their former great Dirk Nowitzki but after Luka Doncic’s historical triple double on Tuesday they might need to commission another monument.
Doncic delivered an astonishing 60-point triple-double as he led the Mavericks to a 126-121 overtime victory over the New York Knicks.
The Slovenian added 21 rebounds and 10 assists, becoming the first player in NBA history with a triple-double featuring at least 60 points and 20 rebounds.
“It’ll be another statue in Dallas… Luka is like that,” quipped former NBA MVP Kevin Garnett.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban certainly wasn’t going to dampen the enthusiasm after watching the 23-year-old’s jaw-dropping display of dominance.
“We are watching greatness…I’ve never seen anything like that ever,” he wrote on Twitter.
Dallas coach Jason Kidd, who ended his playing career ranked fourth in all-time triple doubles in the NBA, said the fans had been privileged to see such talent on court.
“We sit here every night and we’re lucky. We can’t take him for granted. Again, people get their money’s worth when they come watch him play. He puts on a show,” he added.
“He’s special. The history of the game is written by the players and it was written again tonight. For a player, Luka, doing something that’s never been done before. It’s hard to do,” he added.
So hard in fact that Doncic was just the second player in NBA history to score 60 points in a triple-double.
James Harden scored 60 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists in a game for Houston in 2018.
The performance was even more spectacular than the pure numbers – impressive though they were.
The Knicks were up by nine with 33.9 seconds remaining in regulation, but Doncic inspired Dallas to dramatically take the game into overtime.
Doncic made the game tying shot himself after deliberately missing a free throw and as both sides scrambled for the rebound he muscled for the ball and found the basket.
Doncic then scored seven more in overtime as Dallas emerged victors from what was arguably the game of the regular season so far.
Kidd said the determination that Doncic showed to find a way to win was typical of his approach.
“He’s all about winning. He believes he can win every night. As a teammate and a coach, that’s who you want in that locker room.”
Doncic played for Real Madrid in Spain before he was taken by the Mavericks in 2018, after the Atlanta Hawks traded him right after securing him in the draft.
The Slovenian was mentored by Nowitzki when he arrived in Texas, the pair playing together in the German’s final season in 2018/19 and it was Nowitzki’s franchise record of 53 points in a game that he smashed on Tuesday.
Nowitzki was a 14-time All-Star and the first European player to start in an All-Star game, the first European MVP as well as the highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history.
“When you think of Dallas, you think of Dirk,” Doncic said after the statue ceremony.
Having played a record 21 years for the Mavericks some of Nowitzki’s records will surely remain untouched.
But Doncic, who already has more 50 point regular season games than the German, is certainly on the way to earning his own place in Mavericks history.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.