'Superstar': Real Madrid veterans are still in awe of Luka Doncic

Edvinas Jablonskis
Daily Editor
2022-05-19 08:05
Credit: AFP-Scanpix
Credit AFP-Scanpix

Belgrade brings back good memories for Real Madrid. 2018 was the last time Real Madrid won the EuroLeague, and now they return for another title hunt.

However, they will try to do that without one of the biggest EuroLeague stars Luka Doncic, who's now breaking records in the NBA.

Doncic left Europe after completely conquering it. Being 19 years old, Doncic has won EuroBasket, EuroLeague title, EuroLeague regular season MVP, EuroLeague Final Four MVP, three Spanish ACB League titles, and two Spanish Cup titles.

Free throws this season

77%
11,1
Points made: 11,1
Accuracy: 76,7%
Place in standings: 13
Record max: 22
Record min: 4
Most made FTs: Walter Tavares

Now, the Slovenian superstar is trying to bring glory to Dallas, where his led Mavericks just started the Western Conference series against the Golden State Warriors.

The beginning wasn't easy as Mavericks lost Game 1 87-112, while Doncic scored 20 points on 6/18 shooting from the field.

However, his performance in the series against the Suns left many people stunned. In a decisive Game 7, Doncic accumulated 35 points (6/8 2PT, 6/11 3PT, 5/5 FT), ten rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two turnovers.

In his fourth year in the NBA and his third playoffs, the 23-year-old Slovenian has already played four elimination games. He averages 38.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists. 

38 points per elimination game is by far the best result. In the second place is legendary Michael Jordan, who played 13 such games throughout his career and averaged 31.3 points per duel.

Luka is so special that he continues to impress veteran players who've seen it all.

"Luka is so impressive," Fabien Causeur told BasketNews. "I had a chance to play with him for one year, and it was a great moment. I didn't expect him to kill in the NBA like that. I'm super happy for him, and I'm sure he'll keep continue doing this for 10-15 years. It's huge for European basketball; it's great for us. I'm really proud of him for what he's doing."

That 2017-18 season Final Four for Causeur was memorable on and off the court.

Speaking of on the court action, in the 2018 EuroLeague final, Causeur led Real in scoring (17 PTS) and efficiency (21 PIR) to beat Fenerbahce Istanbul 85-80.

However, the EuroLeague media decided to give the MVP award to a teenager who had just turned 19 two months before the title game. Doncic had 15 points, four assists, and 17 PIR that night.

"Of course, he played a great tournament, and I played a great tournament. But I was so happy just to get the title as a team. It's not about individual awards. If you get the MVP award, it's a cherry on the cake. But we just joked about it, and he deserved it," Causeur continued.

They also shared the same room in Belgrade before the last EuroLeague game for Luka Doncic.

Causeur was a six-year EuroLeague veteran at the age of 30 back then. But he still couldn't calm down before the big game against Fenerbahce.

"Before the final, I couldn't sleep. It was 2:00 at night, and I couldn't sleep," Causeur told a funny story to BasketNews. "But Luka was sleeping all the time. He was snoring on the side like there was no pressure at all."

"For him, it was just another game. The kid was special, I'm telling you," Causeur added.

Doncic was so dominant in the series against the Suns that he outscored Devin Booker (229 points vs 164), outrebounded Deandre Ayton (69 rebounds vs 57), and even out assisted Chris Paul (49 assists vs 40).

However, for some of those 2018 title-winning Real Madrid team members, Doncic's dominance isn't so surprising. 

"Everybody sees it that his transition was fairly easy," Anthony Randolph said while talking to BasketNews. "It's easier to score for him, and he's doing incredible things there. Breaking records almost every night, and the sky is the limit for him. It's just something special about him, how he impacts things."

"When Luka was here, of course, he was [a huge part] of our win. He's a superstar," Walter Tavares continued Doncic's praise. "But for us this year, it's going to be the same. We are Real Madrid."

"We know Luka was one of the keys to the title, but we also knew Luka will be different in the NBA with all that space there. To a player of his quality, it's easy for him to play there," added Tavares.

Nevertheless, there's one person who knows Luka the best. It's head coach Pablo Laso who saw Doncic from the very start when he joined Real at 13 years old.

"I always said that Luka is a great player," Laso noted. "Everybody understands it, everybody knows it, everybody sees it. But the great thing about Luka is that he came to us when he was 13-year-old. He was a great kid, a great person, and grew up with us."

"We were happy to have him, we were happy to achieve a lot of goals with him in the club. Now he's playing on a different level, and he's doing great. I had no doubt he was going to do it [to play so well]," Laso added.

He made the transition from junior basketball to men. Then he made a jump to EuroLeague playoffs, the NBA, and finally the NBA playoffs.

One thing remained in common: in whichever place or competition Doncic was placed, he adapted to it without too many difficulties.

"The best thing about him is that he adjusts very well to any circumstances, Laso said. "Probably that's a value that he has as a person, not only as a player."

Now Real Madrid will have to show whether they can adapt in the most crucial time of the season with titles and glory being on the line.



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