It’s been a heck of a two years for Luka Doncic.
In January 2018, the Dallas Mavericks star was in the middle of a EuroLeague MVP campaign for Real Madrid. Since then, he’s moved overseas, been selected third overall in the 2018 NBA draft, named last season’s Rookie of the Year and vaulted into All-NBA consideration in his sophomore year.
The 20-year-old suddenly has the attention of the entire basketball world, his former idols included. Speaking with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Doncic discussed his new normal of running into Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
Surprised Luka Doncic has been able to leap from Rookie of the Year to MVP contender in just half a season? So is he. I sat down with the NBA's rising superstar to talk title aspirations, trash talking with Kobe and why he still feels pressure playing against LeBron. pic.twitter.com/UGkxXqMlLW— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) January 8, 2020
Talking about that time Bryant went as far as heckling Doncic in his native Slovenian during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Nichols asked the important question: What exactly did Bryant say?
Doncic’s response was a sheepish look, a slight shaking of his head and a reply of “I can’t say that.” Apparently Bryant has quite the vocabulary. Doncic did add that Bryant’s accent was “great.”
Like many his age, Doncic said he grew up watching Bryant and LeBron James. He ran into both that night at Staples Center, though it wasn’t the first time he had run into James on the court.
“I remember [the first time I faced James], I was nervous,” Doncic said. “Playing against your idol, I was nervous. It was something different than what I had experienced. As we go along to today, it’s different than the first game, for sure, playing against him, but it’s always pressure.
“For me, everything happens so fast. Two years ago, I was playing in Real Madrid. I was 18 years old. Things happen quick.”
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