Luka Doncic, just two years into his NBA career, has established himself as one of the top players in the league, emerging as one of the elite offensive forces with his abilities as a scorer and passer. Those qualities as a point-forward have earned him comparisons to some of the game’s all-time greats, particularly his passing, as people will at times compare him to the likes of Magic Johnson and, more recently, LeBron James.
He obviously has a long, long way to go to reach the heights those two have, both individually and in leading teams to titles, but even LeBron understands the comps and admits to seeing some of himself in Luka’s game. James, who appeared on a Road Trippin’ special on Spectrum Sportsnet this week with Richard Jefferson and Allie Clifton, explained why Doncic has become one of his favorite players in the league and offered a previously unknown nugget of information about how he wanted to sign Doncic to be the face of “Team LeBron” with Nike when the young star was negotiating a new sneaker deal, which he eventually signed with Jordan.
— “Three-Peat” Fan/Guru Dr. (@WayoffPiss) December 2, 2020
“Luka is one of my favorite players in the NBA today. From the simple fact of, the way I play the game is exactly how I love the way he plays the game,” James said. “Team first, gets his guys involved, if you challenge me to score, I’m going to score. At the same time I’m going to score, but I’m going to keep my guys involved. But I play for the team and I play with a sense of joy.
“When Luka was going through his contract negotiations with Nike, and you saw him at one point he was wearing Jordans, other brands during practices, I wanted to begin Team LeBron and have Luka as my first signing with Nike,” James continued. “This is what I wanted, and I don’t believe that my guys at Nike was ready for that, and obviously they were not because he went to Jordan. And I don’t know if Luka knows this, but he will know it now. I wanted Luka to be the first signee with Team LeBron when he was going through his situation, and it didn’t happen but he’s still under the same umbrella of Nike with Jordan but I wanted him to be — and that’s how much I believed in him. And I feel like it’s going to haunt me a little bit, but I wanted him to be my first guy because I love what he stands for. I love everything about him, on court and off court, he’s just a great guy.”
It’s incredibly high praise from LeBron and certainly an interesting bit of information about his hopes to launch Team LeBron the same way Team Jordan did two decades ago with a rising star like Doncic. Luka himself has said he idolized James as a kid, so this surely will mean a lot to him as he enters Year 3 in Dallas with hopes of continuing his rise and the Mavs rise as a Western Conference contender.