Have you ever caught yourself wondering “What if Magic Johnson actually tried on defense and also he was an 18-year-old Slovenian basketball prodigy?”
Well, fear not: he has arrived.
2018 NBA Draft Prospect Luka Dončić is currently tearing up the competition in Europe’s aptly-named EuroLeague, and is a key member on the best non-NBA basketball team in the world, Real Madrid. Dončić joined the team five years ago at the young age of 13, and since has made a lot of noise by not just getting minutes—but by becoming a top player in the league as its youngest member, and winning the EuroLeague Rising Star award.
Dončić has a basketball résumé we’ve never seen from someone so young. To fully appreciate it, it has to be broken down into a year-by-year accomplishments list, combining both his real achievements and experiences with ones I’ve made up.
- · Dončić was born to Mirjam Poterbin and Saša Dončić on February 28th, 1999. His father Saša was a member of the Slovenian national basketball team.
- · Dončić was given a stuffed basketball to put in his crib as he slept, which he named “Basketbally.” Unable to form multi-syllabic words, Dončić referred to Basketbally simply as “Bah.”
- · On the early side for babies, Dončić took his first steps at nine months. These steps were the inspiration for Allen Iverson’s famed step-over in the 2001 Finals.
- · During this age, Dončić developed his ability to walk comfortably alone, and throw a ball.
- · He is finally able to call Basketbally by his full name.
- · He is able to run and jump at this point. His father has taken advantage of these newfound skills, and has begun shaping Dončić as a basketball player.
- · He can now form basic sentences, an ability he uses to shout “And 1!” on the court.
- · Dončić is now dominating stairs, able to walk both up and down them.
- · Basketbally is still his best friend, though he did make a friend at daycare with whom he has occasional playdates.
- · He has a decent shot on the miniature basketball hoop in his room, but at this point he still sticks his elbow too far out to the right on his moving three-pointer.
- · Luka is now attending Pre-Kindergarten, and from the first day has the reputation as ‘The Cool Kid’ in the class.
- · Against his mother’s wishes, Dončić brings Basketbally to school every day.
- · Now a kindergartener, Dončić has a selection of words he can write and he is able to dress himself. He alternates between wearing his father’s Slovenia jersey and his father’s club team jersey.
- · At this age he can draw pictures, so Dončić outlines plays which will get his classmates open shots at recess.
- · Dončić learns the difference between left and right, which doesn’t really matter because he can already drive and score equally well both ways.
- · He’s started to leave Basketbally at home during school, but he still sleeps with him each night.
- · Dončić’s organized basketball career begins. Luka plays for his primary school in Ljubljana, and from the first day has the reputation as ‘The Cool Kid’ on the team.
- · He takes Basketbally to games, but leaves him in his locker.
- · The Dončić family moves when Saša signs with Union Olimpija.
- · Just 8 years old, Dončić starts to play with the team’s 8-year-old team, but after 15 minutes at the first practice he is moved to the 11-year-old squad. After one practice with this team, Dončić is again moved, this time to the under-14 team. (This one is actually true).
- · Though he was unable to play with the team due to the league rules, he practiced with them and competed in the under-12 team’s games.
- · Dončić forgets Basketbally on his way to a practice during his 2008 season and does not make a single shot. Incredibly ashamed and disappointed in himself, Luka begins to believe that Basketbally is the source of all his skill. He decides he will never forget to bring Basketbally again.
- · Many of the records of Dončić’s activities during this period have been lost. Historians refer to this three-year span as the ‘Dončić Dark Decade.’ Though the span was only three years, it is referred to this way because the historian who named it really liked alliteration. It assumed that Dončić expanded his basketball skill and continued to practice with the Olimpija under-14 team.
- · Dončić participates in a tournament in Italy in April 2012. With Basketbally by his side, Dončić puts up a statline of 54 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists in the final game to win the tournament and the MVP award.
- · A few months later, Dončić signs a 5-year contract with Real Madrid, for whom he had played briefly earlier in the year.
- · Taking only one suitcase of his possessions, Luka heads to Madrid.
- · Dončić loses his suitcase on the way to his house in Madrid. Luckily, Basketbally was in his backpack, so his basketball powers remain with him.
- · Luka performs well with Real Madrid’s Under-16 team, earning himself a promotion for the next year.
- · At just 15, Luka plays for both Real Madrid’s Under-18 squad and their reserve team, Real Madrid B, averaging a stat line of 14.5/6.2/3.1, and helping the reserve team finish atop the amateur standings.
- · Dončić has his first kiss after asking a female classmate out to the movies. They saw Guardians of the Galaxy.
- · Dončić leads the team to a Ciutat de L’Hospitalet Tournament win, making the All-Tournament team despite being two years younger than the other players.
- · In May, he wins the Next Generation Tournament MVP after leading his team to yet another tournament win.
- · Basketbally is proud of Luka, but worries that his basketball skill will go to his head, and Luka will start to forget about him
- · After becoming the youngest person to debut with Real Madrid’s official team the following year, Luka becomes a full-time member of the roster.
- · Above the legal drinking age in Spain, Dončić experiences his first hangover.
- · Luka becomes an established member of the team, playing increased minutes and boasting increased stats.
- · Luka has a fantastic season, winning a Liga ACB Player of the Week, and four EuroLeague MVP of the Round awards before adding a unanimous EuroLeague Rising Star trophy to his shelf.
- · At the end of the summer, Dončić debuts with the Slovenian national team alongside NBA point guard Goran Dragic. The duo leads Slovenia to a FIBA Eurobasket Championship
- · Now a legal adult, Dončić formally adopts Basketbally to obtain all the rights over him that a parent has over a child, and ensure he will never lose the secret to his basketball prowess. Basketbally feels very loved by the gesture, and vows never to leave his side.
Luka Dončić is going to be an NBA superstar—he was destined to be. Whether it be due to the magical powers of his sidekick, Basketbally, or his own natural talent and hard work, Dončić was created to dominate the world of basketball, and to show the world what Slovenia is capable of.
There is no valid argument to be made that Dončić won’t take over the NBA upon his arrival next season. His stats and accomplishments speak for themselves, and if they’re not enough, just consider this: if you had a magical sidekick who gave you powers, wouldn’t you be a legend?