Luka Doncic Says He Was Nervous for 1st Time in Career Before Facing Miami Heat

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Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic has had a strong first season in the NBA and is the odds-on favorite to win the league’s Rookie of the Year award.

Yet prior to Thursday night’s road game against the Miami Heat, he experienced some first-time emotions about the contest.

A feeling of nervousness overcame Doncic because of the presence of approximately 2,000 of his fellow countrymen from Slovenia. They were there to witness the first meeting between Doncic and fellow Slovenian Goran Dragic of the Heat, with the 20-year-old Doncic feeling the pressure:

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“Honestly, for the first time in my career, I was nervous before the game. It was different for me, but it was a special night. There were a lot of people here, a lot of Slovenians and having to play against Goran for the first time, it was different.”

Both players made major contributions during the game, which was won by the Heat, 105-99. Dragic won the individual battle, with a triple-double of 23 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. For Doncic, his numbers were also impressive as he scored 19 points, grabbed eight boards and dished out seven assists.

The victory required a fourth-quarter comeback by the Heat, which saw them outscore the Mavericks, 30-17. Dragic spoke about how the passion of the Slovenian fans helped him:

“I really appreciate them for flying here and buying plane tickets to come see me. I always feel like I have to put on a show even for my fans in Miami, that is my job. This game was something special for them because I was playing against Luka.”

Following the game, Dragic and Doncic took a page out of Dwyane Wade’s book by exchanging jerseys. After the game, Dragic joked about upstaging his retiring teammate:

“I told D-Wade ‘I’m sorry D’ and he said for me to do my thing and then he was going to do his exchange. It was a special thing for me.”

The win was especially important for the Heat as they continue to battle for a playoff spot. They now have a season record of 37-38 and moved back into the eighth and final playoff spot, one half game ahead of Orlando.
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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.