Following a whirlwind summer when he spent time relaxing on a boat overseas and doing so much exercising that he now has a set of six-pack abs, Luka Doncic is eager to get the upcoming NBA season started.
The Dallas Mavericks’ superstar guard arrived back in town two weeks ago. But before training camp opens on Oct. 1, Doncic gave Mavs.com an exclusive interview on a range of topics, including why he now has to steer clear of pasta.
MAVS.COM: Your rookie season ended April 12 with a win over Memphis, so now you’re back in town following a long offseason by your standards. So how has the summer gone for you?
LUKA DONCIC: It was a different summer for me. It’s the first time I’ve had so many days off – actually, months. So it was great for me.
MAVS.COM: What was the highlight of the summer for you?
LUKA: Just hanging out with my friends and working out. It was one of the best things ever.
MAVS.COM: What was the most fun experience you did over the summer?
LUKA: Being with my friends on a boat in Croatia.
MAVS.COM: You also attended a playoff game involving your former team, Real Madrid. What was that experience like for you?
LUKA: It was different because I was at courtside. I’ve never been courtside right there watching all my ex-teammates play. Actually, I wanted to go out there and play basketball, too.
MAVS.COM: Millions of us saw that photo of you on social media where you posed with a flat stomach while holding your dog, Hugo. How much weight did you lose, because we heard you lost as much as 20 pounds?
LUKA: Yeah, but I didn’t check it. I just lost it, so I don’t have to worry about it, so that’s the key.
MAVS.COM: What has been the immediate results of the weight loss? And do you believe that’s going to help you going forward, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
LUKA: I would say I’m faster now. So (my defense is) going to get better, for sure.
MAVS.COM: Speaking of weight, have you seen center Kristaps Porzingis lately? His biceps have increased significantly.
LUKA: Yea. Both of them.
MAVS.COM: What are your thoughts on Porzingis using the summer to go out and effectively get stronger?
LUKA: He’s getting ready. He’s been on the court a lot of time. He just wants to get out there and just play.
MAVS.COM: Are you anticipating the damage you and Porzingis can do together on the court over the next, I don’t know, 15 years or so? He just turned 24 years old earlier this month, and you’re only 20 years old.
LUKA: Yeah, I hope we can do a lot of damage. We’re two young kids and we want to just play. We’ve got a lot of great teammates – they’re going to help us. Dirk (Nowitzki is) going to stick around and help us for sure, so we know it’s going to be great.
MAVS.COM: You were the NBA Rookie of the Year last season. But you always hear about the sophomore jinx, where players’ skills often level out. How do you avoid that jinx?
LUKA: I just love playing basketball, so it doesn’t matter what year it is for me. I just want to enjoy it.
MAVS.COM: With training camp set to open in less than a month, what’s the excitement level for you at this moment?
LUKA: I’m excited to see my new teammates, my old teammates. I’m just excited to be a part of the Mavericks and to just get out there and play for Dallas.
MAVS.COM: I saw where you attended the Dallas Cowboys’ 34-0 shutout of the Houston Texans last Saturday. What did you think of the game?
LUKA: It was good. They played very well. Last year was my first time watching the NFL live, so I’m going to be going to the games.
MAVS.COM: Any thoughts on Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott holding out for over the past month so he can possibly obtain a massive contract extension?
LUKA: He hasn’t signed yet, so I don’t really know what’s going on with that. But I know he’s going to sign.
MAVS.COM: Have you been keeping up with the national debate in the United States on who has the better chicken sandwich – Popeye’s or Chick-fil-A?
LUKA: I have no idea.
MAVS.COM: What’s your favorite go-to meal? And can you still eat that meal now that you’re watching your weight?
LUKA: I love pasta, but I’m getting rid of pasta for salads. This (salad is) healthy stuff. So it’s tough (to still eat pasta).
MAVS.COM: A lot of folks are a connoisseur of ice cream. Do you eat ice cream?
LUKA: I do sometimes, but I’m not a big fan of ice cream. I’m not a big fan of sweets, though.
MAVS.COM: Are you a fan of sodas?
LUKA: If I drink sodas, I drink Zero Coke (aka Coca-Cola Zero). It’s good once you get used to it.
MAVS.COM: What’s the major difference in eating your favorite food you used to eat and eating the nutritional food you need to eat in order to maintain the playing weight that you want to maintain?
LUKA: It’s just healthier. I feel way better.
MAVS.COM: Are you in the kitchen a lot working your magic? In other words, do you know how to cook?
LUKA: Yeah. Just some things. Not a lot. My girlfriend cooks.
MAVS.COM: What’s your favorite go-to dish that you like to cook?
LUKA: I’d say pasta and chicken.
MAVS.COM: What’s your favorite restaurant to dine at in Dallas?
LUKA: I’d say Nick & Sam’s.
MAVS.COM: You have almost three million followers on Instagram. Does that boggle your mind, considering the population of your home country of Slovenia?
LUKA: It’s crazy, especially before when I hit 2 million. There’s 2 million people in my country. But it’s nice that people follow me.
MAVS.COM: Do you spend more than your fair share of time on social media?
LUKA: Yeah, but I don’t post that much in the offseason. I just watch other people’s stories.
MAVS.COM: Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Instagram?
LUKA: My girlfriend and my friends. They put a lot of stories out there.
MAVS.COM: What are your thoughts on the Mavs’ offseason acquisition of shooting guard Seth Curry, who came here via free agency from Portland?
LUKA: I can’t wait to play with him. I saw some highlights of him working out. He’s so underrated. It was hard to play against him, and now I get to play with him, so obviously I’m excited.
MAVS.COM: The Mavs acquired Delon Wright in a trade with Memphis last month. How will he be able to make your life and this team better?
LUKA: He’s a point guard and he can make things easier for me and easier for the team. So I’m excited to have him.
MAVS.COM: You obviously had a very solid rookie season with averages of 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and six assists per game. But what areas of your game would you like to improve going into your second NBA season?
LUKA: Just everything. Better shots, better passes, rebounds. Everything. Just do everything better than I’m used to.
MAVS.COM: What steps have you taken in order to facilitate those improvements? Are you working out more?
LUKA: I’m practicing five days a week. And the weekends, too.
MAVS.COM: We all know that you enjoy your sneakers. What’s your favorite pair to wear?
LUKA: I would say right now it’s the Kobe IV.
MAVS.COM: Were you surprised you were not listed in the Top 20 rankings in the NBA 2K20?
LUKA: It’s 2K. They’ve got my rankings. Everybody just figured out what their rankings are. Honestly, I play other games, too.
MAVS.COM: Since you started playing basketball, last season was your first time ever finishing the year with a losing record. How difficult was it to go through that?
LUKA: It was hard, especially in the beginning during the first half of the season. But I knew this year was going to be different, so I was fine with it. I know this season is going to be different, for sure.
MAVS.COM: Will this be the season the Mavs qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2016?
LUKA: It’s going to be difficult. I think the West is much stronger than the East. It’s more difficult in the West, for sure. But we have to do our jobs, so we’ve got to make the playoffs.
MAVS.COM: Are two of the more meaningful keys to reaching the playoffs centered on sweeping all the bad teams and holding your own against the better teams?
LUKA: I would just say beat everybody you can. Every game is a different game. If you win one game, win another one. Just go game-by-game.