Luka Doncic left no doubt of his greatness in his Olympic debut against Argentina Sunday night and early into Monday morning.
He scored 48 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and left many watching in awe of his absolute greatness. His point total sits tied for second in most points scored in an Olympic game all-time. And his stunning offensive explosion even left the team Doncic was playing against awestruck by his basketball wonder.
“I said two years ago: he is the best player in the world, including the NBA,” Sergio Hernandez, Argentina’s head coach, said. “If there was any doubt in my mind, there is no doubt anymore.”
Yet, it wasn’t just Argentina and their coach that levied praise for Doncic. His support was global. The Ringer NBA said Doncic was playing like the international Michael Jordan.
Luka Doncic playing with Slovenia right now pic.twitter.com/ZVbUi2dIG0
— #RingerNBA (@ringernba) July 26, 2021
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon was deft of words while watching what took place on the basketball court.
Olympic Luka has announced his presence.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 26, 2021
Dallas Morning News’ Brad Townsend felt like a happy parent watching Doncic have his way with Argentina’s defense.
Proud mom, happy son. pic.twitter.com/wRy9tPiVA2
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) July 26, 2021
Doncic’s game is effortless. There is a natural cadence and rhythm to what he does on a basketball court. No defense is too daunting. And no defender really has an answer for his offensive skill set.
Early in his career, question marks were surrounding the consistency of his 3-point jump shot. He’s quieted those concerns last night.
In his 48-point explosion, he hit six of his 14 3-point attempts. Doncic had it all working, from stepbacks to pull-up jumpers, he could do no wrong.
With a few minutes left in the game, Doncic had an opportunity to go for the Olympic record in scoring (55) but elected not to. At 22, he willingly subbed out because Slovenia had the game won.
“I don’t care about records,” he said. “We got a win and that’s what we came here for.”
His teammates on the bench begged Doncic to go for the record, but the 22-year-old only has his mind on one thing – winning.
“Everybody was telling him on the bench, ‘OK, let’s get the record,'” veteran Slovenian player Zoran Dragic said.”But that’s not the case. The case is to win the game. He knows that, and it’s crazy that he’s only 22 years old.”
There is still so much Doncic is capable of, even though he’s already done more than what some athletes do in their career. At such a young age, he led Slovenia to their first Olympic qualification. He hasn’t lost a game when playing for his national team. And now he stands a few wins away from getting Slovenia out of their Olympic group – something not many picked them to do.
Soon enough the cavitate of Doncic being the best “international” player or the best “22-year-old” will be dropped. At some point soon in his career, he will simply be known as the best player in the world.
His Olympic debut was certainly a step towards that recognition.
“We tried everything that we would have tried against a normal player,” Hernandez said, “but he’s not a normal player.”
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Feature image via Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.