Luka Dončić is the central reason the Dallas Mavericks had realistic hopes for glory in 2023. The Slovenian guard cut a Texas-size swath through NBA record books this season; at one point ESPN considered him among the MVP front-runners. Only the absence of a championship ring has separated him from the ranks of the all-time greats. And yet a ring seems further out of reach than ever. The Mavs spent most of this season stuck in the middle of the Western Conference pack, until the bottom fell out in embarrassing—and controversial—fashion. Dončić deserved better. Since better likely isn’t coming anytime soon, we humbly offer him Texas Monthly’s first Bless Your Heart proclamation, which honors those who have given much and received little.
WHEREAS, Luka Dončić achieved startling statistical feats this season, including becoming only the second player (after Wilt Chamberlain) to surpass 30 points in each of the first eight games of the season; being the first player to record 60 points, twenty rebounds, and ten assists in a game, which he did against the New York Knicks; and being the first player to record more than 95 points, twenty rebounds, and twenty assists in a two-game span.
WHEREAS, despite his worsening tendency to complain to referees instead of hustling back on defense, he turned in perhaps the finest year of his career, averaging a personal-best 32.4 points per game, the second-highest (after Joel Embiid) in the NBA this season, along with more than eight rebounds and eight assists.
WHEREAS, he pledged to pay for the funeral services of the eight children and one security guard who were murdered in a school shooting in Belgrade, Serbia, in May, and also promised to fund counseling and support services for the school’s surviving children and staff.
WHEREAS, he engaged in such entertaining antics as telling a courtside reporter, immediately after his sixty-point masterpiece against the Knicks, “I’m tired as hell—I need a recovery beer” and rolling up to the American Airlines Center for a Christmas Day game in a first-gen Camaro—painted Mavericks blue—then stepping out wearing a black cowboy hat, a black pearl-snap shirt tucked inside Wrangler jeans, and custom size-16 boots. He later said he’d forgotten to bring along his pet horny toad. “Because I’m Texan,” he replied when a reporter asked why on earth he had one in the first place.
WHEREAS, he strove mightily to do his best, even after the Mavericks management let Jalen Brunson, a key part of the team’s run to the 2022 Western Conference Finals, leave the team during free agency.
WHEREAS, he had the candor to look none too pleased as he and a few other star players sat on the bench during the last two games of the season—on the Mavs’ Slovenian appreciation night, no less!—in a management ploy to miss the playoffs so the franchise could retain a top-ten pick in June’s NBA draft (incurring a $750,000 fine against the team).
BE IT RESOLVED that in this month of June 2023, Luka Dončić’s heart is now blessed—assuming, that is, he doesn’t demand a trade out of state.
This article originally appeared in the June 2023 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Luka Dončić , Bless Your Heart.” Subscribe today.