April 11, 2018
ESPN published a profile of the Slovenian-born Real Madrid basketball phenom Luka Dončić the other day, written by Mina Kimes, and this is what we learned. (Note that in the US they don’t seem to write the accents on the c’s in his name, an omission we’ve corrected throughout).
He’s been whispered about for a long time in the US
For a while, the story of Luka Dončić seemed like a myth: the tale of a blond basketball demigod with supernatural mental and physical powers, a 6-foot-8 Slovenian teenager whose name was whispered only in the nerdiest corners of the NBA internet….Outside of Europe, Dončić (pronounced dawn-chich) was still an abstraction, a set of inscrutable numbers paired with a name. Then in September, he came face-to-face with Kristaps Porzingis -- and his fabled existence suddenly felt real.
He likes reggaetón
Dončić sings a few unprintable lyrics from Migos' "Bad and Boujee." And when Julio [a communications staffer from Real Madrid] sighs, Dončić smiles sweetly, gesturing toward me. "I listen with the American people," he says.
Things he likes about America: Five-Guys burgers, Six Flags amusement park, and the cars in LA
He’s learning more about the home of the NBA by catching up on old TV shows
After watching all 10 seasons of Friends last summer, he's working his way through How I Met Your Mother and is keen on visiting New York. "Central Park!" he says. "Drink coffee!"
His choice of nickname perhaps needs more work
Swaggy L," he says.
Both Julio and Alyson [his American publicist,] groan.
"Swaggy ... LD," he suggests.
He enjoys video games
Dončić says he spends two to three hours a day playing video games like FIFA and Overwatch. ("Most of the time, when I get home ... I see Luka playing," [Willy] Hernangomez says.)
His parents separated when he was 8 years old, and Luka’s relationship with his father, a basketball coach in Slovenia, is complicated
When asked to elaborate on their relationship, Luka declines.
He lives with his mother in Spain, but maybe not for much longer
When I ask him if his mother will move to America with him, he murmurs maybe, then corrects himself and says yes. "But if she will move, we will move to different apartments," he says, sitting up a little straighter in his chair.
His mother’s cousin provides some fun quotes
Mirjam's cousin Dolman told me that the young star is the most famous person in Slovenia -- after Dragic, Melania Trump and "the woman who taped money to her body in The Wolf of Wall Street."