This story is courtesy of the Dallas Morning News and Mavericks beat writer, Brad Townsend.
To read the feature story in its entirety, click here. Pictures are courtesy of Dallas Mavericks photojournalist, Monica Borja 

CLEVELAND — Luka Doncic learned last year that he has a bunch of fans in Cleveland, which has the largest Slovenian population in the United States.

When the Mavericks came here last season, on Feb. 2, Doncic had 35 points, 11 rebounds and six assists – and had a special moment with a young fan of Slovenian heritage, Joey Tromba, who had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the previous month.

Doncic arranged for Tromba and his family to get tickets to the game, then met with them afterward. On Sunday night, Tromba, 22, and his family were back at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse and met with Doncic after he finished pregame warmups.

Then the Trombas watched Doncic pour in 29 points, tie his career high with 15 assists, and pulled down 14 rebounds.

“It’s just nice to have a connection with someone who’s very nice and is doing very well in the NBA,” Tromba said. “He deserves it. He’s a very good dude.”

Doncic learned of Tromba’s diagnosis, and his Slovenian heritage, when Tromba’s sister, Sophia, tweeted a message that was retweeted by many of Doncic’s fans and Doncic himself.

Doncic followed Joey on Twitter and sent him a direct message: “I’ll meet you in Cleveland, for sure. Whatever you need. I got a jersey for you. Praying for you my man.”

Initially the Tromba family was concerned that Joey might not get released from the Cleveland Clinic in time to come to last February’s game. Joey at the time was undergoing intensive chemotherapy treatment that according to his mother, Julie, was difficult.

Joey completed eight months of that chemotherapy in August. He’s now in remission and is scheduled for maintenance chemotherapy for three years.

Julie Tromba said Doncic sends Twitter messages to check on Joey. Julie Tromba and Doncic’s mother, Mirjam, exchange texts messages. Mirjam planned to come to Sunday’s game, which naturally was again Slovenian Heritage Night, but a personal commitment prevented her from traveling.

Julie Tromba said the effect Luka’s kindness has had on Joey, a former wrestler, is immeasurable.

“Oh my gosh,” she said. “He beams. He’s just so excited. And it’s so awesome that we have a Slovenian connection. He’s in heaven every time he hears from Luka.”

 The Mavericks’ organization is about basketball and so much more, and it’s our hope to bridge our company, causes and vision with people all over the world. Throughout the season, we remained committed to sharing stories about our players, coaches and organization both on and off the court. We Play for The Dreamers. Heroes. The Fighters and Survivors. World-Changers and Community-Shakers. The Youth, Children and The Future.

We play for YOU.
We are Mavs…and This Is Why We Play.


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