PORTLAND, Ore. – Luka and LeBron.
Separated by many years, they are tied together by their skills and charisma on the basketball court.
That’s why they were the top two vote-getters in fan balloting for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.
Doncic earned one of the starting backcourt spots when the 10 starters were announced on Thursday.
Less than two weeks from his 21st birthday, Doncic will be the first Mavericks starter in the All-Star Game since Dirk Nowitzki in 2010. LeBron James, the 35-year-old Los Angeles Laker who was in the NBA when Doncic was barely out of diapers, will be making his 16th consecutive All-Star appearance, all starts.
There is no guarantee that Doncic and James will be on the same team. James and Giannis Antetokounmpo – the top vote-getter in the Eastern Conference – will be captains and draft the other starters and reserves to determine the two squads that will play Feb. 16 in Chicago.
No matter who drafts Doncic, it marks another milestone for the Mavericks’ point guard. It most certainly will not be the last time he’s in the All-Star Game.
But the first one is extra special. So how did Doncic feel when he got the news?
“It was amazing,” he said. “I used to wake up every year to watch the game and my mom said, you got to do your homework if you’re going to wake up early. And now, I’m here. It’s different. But it’s very special. It’s a blessing. I never thought I would be here, but it’s a dream come true.”
He said he hasn’t given much thought – yet – to perhaps being James’ teammate. But he said he won’t lobby for being the No. 1 pick when James and Antetokounmpo draft their teams.
“It would be amazing,” Doncic said of perhaps teaming up with James. “Everybody knows what LeBron means to me. It would be special, for sure.”
The Mavericks’ point guard averages 29.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 9 assists per game. He’s had a league-best 12 triple doubles. In just his second season, he already has established himself as a superstar.
Doncic will not be the youngest starter in the game’s history. That designation belongs to Kobe Bryant, who started when he was 19 years, 170 days old.
“So excited for him, so excited for the franchise,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And it’s so well-deserved. It’s just really an exciting time for our team, for him, for his career and certainly the future.”
Doncic’s teammates could not have been happier for him.
“Obviously, it’s well deserved,” Maxi Kleber said. “He’s put in the work. I don’t even think he realizes what he’s accomplishing yet.
“He’s been incredible to be a teammate with. He’s the main reason we have the record we have and have been winning games. And to see how much he’s improved from last year to this year, it’s incredible. He obviously worked hard in the offseason to get to this point.”
Added J.J. Barea: “We’re super excited. He deserves everything. I hope he enjoys it.
“And more to come.”