Luka’s Legendary Christmas 🎄

12/27/2023 Luka’s Legendary Christmas 🎄

By: Jeff Yoder

Luka Doncic (50 Points) Submits Bid for Best NBA Christmas Day Performance of All-Time

It’s time. We’ve put it off long enough. The underdog story of Luka Doncic didn’t always seem ripe. He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and expectations were high, so his story never really felt like a true underdog. But today, I’m throwing in the towel, because what he did on Christmas Day was downright otherworldly. And on such a holiday, where mythical Santa Claus and flying reindeer endure, Luka gave basketball fans reason to believe in magic. It’s time we feature the Slovenian superstar, the soon-to-be legend, and his 50 gifts of basketball history.


[Highlight: Luka Doncic Becomes 4th Player in NBA History With 50-Point Game on Christmas Day]


Doncic is one of those pro athletes that doesn’t quite look like a superstar figure. He isn’t physically overwhelming in height, a speedy threat, or a high riser above the rim. The slow, methodical, crafty young superstar has been taking over the NBA little by little, inch-by-inch, and triple-double by 50-piece, and we can’t ignore the feature anymore.


Young Luka From Slovenia

Basketball fans know Doncic, but you may not know his history with basketball. Born in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 1999, Doncic was the son of a professional coach, Sasa. His father was the coach of Illijira in the Slovenia league, and young Luka had a basketball in his grip before he could walk. There was no alternative. He was born to ball. His mother was a salon owner. His sister, Tijana, his biggest fan. He grew up in a part of Slovenia known for open green fields and ball sports of all kinds, but the NBA was always his plan. In fact, his godfather was Radoslav Nesterovic, a former NBA player for 12 seasons who basketball fans may remember.


And while Doncic doesn’t fit our typical “underdog” profile, a European prodigy turned superstar, he wouldn’t be here — in our feature spot — if he wasn’t doing something spectacular. Rest assured, he is.


At 6’7” and 230 pounds, Doncic is a position-less unicorn on the basketball court. He barely lifts off the hardwood when he shoots. He doesn’t get up and down the court with blazing speed. And he doesn’t attack the rim with force. Instead, like many European pros, his game is like an artistic expression. He plays basketball like the old man in your rec league. He doesn’t physically intimidate you but picks you apart with a savvy basketball IQ. Players like LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo play bully ball in the paint. Guys like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard snipe from the volleyball line. But Luka? He’s Picasso with a paintbrush, gently illustrating greatness on the canvas of a basketball court.


An NBA Star Shining

That innate sense of the game is what the Dallas Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban saw when the youngster was available early in the 2018 NBA Draft. And Luka has been every bit as advertised. Dallas selected him at 19 years old, and few expected him to accomplish what he’s done so far. Other players drafted high that year included Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr., Mo Bamba, and Trae Young. That’s four physical power bigs and a sharpshooting guard in Young. Doncic wasn’t power, speed or deadeye, yet somehow all of the above.


He’s the most multi-dimensional player in the NBA not named LeBron James (and he’s 14 years younger). Even Nikola Jokic — the two-time MVP and most recent NBA champion — is limited to more of a power-passer role. Doncic is only 24, and he’s already passed Larry Bird on the all-time triple-double list. Next up? Wilt Chamberlain. And after that, his head coach, Jason Kidd. Seriously… He’s 24.


NBA All-Time Triple Doubles

1. Russell Westbrook (198)*

2. Oscar Robertson (181)

3. Magic Johnson (138)

4. Nikola Jokic (115)*

5. LeBron James (109)*

6. Jason Kidd (107)

7. Wilt Chamberlain (78)

8. James Harden (74)*

9. Luka Doncic (62)*

10. Larry Bird (59)

*Denotes Active Player


Triple-Double Pace Projection

Doncic’s record triple-double pace is one of the most insane stat-tracking phenomenons in modern-day sports. We’ve seen statistical anomalies that threaten history a lot in recent years. But think about this: Luka has more triple-doubles than Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis and Jayson Tatum combined (48). All four of those superstars have been around longer, too. He’s clicking off trip-dubs at a rate of nearly once every five games (17.3%). At that pace, Luka would eclipse 200 triple-doubles if he only played 10 more seasons (age 34). Fellow European superstar Nikola Jokic (115 triple-doubles), could push the mark higher than 200, but he’s 28, and Jokic doesn’t appear to be a guy who will play late into his 30s.


At only 24 years old and early into Year 6, Doncic already owns four all-star nods. And while he’s already achieved ridiculous levels of success at such a young age, he keeps outshining some of the league’s biggest stars.


Christmas Day: A 50-Piece to Remember

On Monday (Christmas), five NBA games took center stage with the biggest stars in the league on display. Fans saw Giannis (32), Jalen Brunson (38), Steph Curry (18), Jokic (26-14-8), Anthony Davis (40-13), LeBron James (16-9-8), Kristaps Porzingis (28-11), Jayson Tatum (25-8-7), Kevin Durant (16-8-7), and Devin Booker (20-10), but above all… there was Luka’s legendary Christmas Day masterpiece (50 points, 15 assists).


He shot 60 percent from the floor (15-for-25) and 50 percent from deep (8-for-16). He was a perfect 12-for-12 from the line, and he tossed 15 assists as the Mavericks beat the star-studded Suns (128-114). Not to mention six boards, four steals, and three blocks. Luka’s final Christmas Day stat line: 50 points, 15 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks.


Fun Fact: Luka is the first player in NBA history with 50+ points, 15+ assists, 3+ steals, 3+ blocks, and 5+ made 3s in a game (since 3-point shooting has been tracked, 1979).


An absolute unit… It was the best Christmas Day NBA performance in nearly 40 years.


50-Point NBA Christmas Day Games

1. Bernard King (NYK) — 60 points (1984)

2. Wilt Chamberlain (PHI) — 59 points (1961)

3. Luka Doncic (DAL) — 50 points (2023)

4. Rick Barry (SF) — 50 points (1966)


10,000 Career Points Faster Than…

In that Christmas performance, Doncic also eclipsed 10,000 career points (at the age of 24!). He hit that milestone in the fewest games (358) of any player since… Michael Jordan (303). Only a few other players have done it faster than Doncic, and they include names like Elgin Baylor (315 games), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (319 games) and Oscar Robertson (334 games).


Luka Doncic (2023 Stats)

Points: 33.5 ppg (Rank: 2nd)

Assists: 9.4 apg (Rank: 3rd)

Rebounds: 8.5 rpg (Rank: 24th)


The Mavericks have had just one MVP winner in franchise history (Dirk Nowitzki, 2007). And though the past five MVP awards have belonged to three big men — Giannis, Jokic and Embiid — 2024 is feeling like the year of Luka.


His Christmas gift to NBA fans suggests it might be.


Watch: Luka Doncic Drops Historic 50-Piece on Christmas Day 🎄


Read More

ESPN: Luka Doncic Tops 10,000 Career Points With 50 on Christmas Day

The Athletic: Luka Doncic’s MVP-Worthy Performance vs. Suns Shows Something Greater

SI: Comical Video Shows Luka Doncic Was Extremely Hyped Up Before Historic Christmas Performance


Photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images