NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
ALERT: KERA News 90.1 is performing essential tower maintenance which may disrupt our over-the-air signal between July 12-14. Click here for the KERA News stream, or listen on our app or smart speakers with no disruption. Thanks for your patience!

Mavericks Teen Star Luka Doncic To Join All-Star Weekend Despite Not Making Team

Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, 19, on the Dallas Mavericks practice court at American Airlines Center. Yes, he's a rookie.
Bill Zeeble
Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, 19, on the Dallas Mavericks practice court at American Airlines Center. Yes, he's a rookie.

Just 19, Luka Doncic has risen to a leadership role on the Dallas Mavericks this season. He almost got a spot on the NBA’s all-star team — but didn’t. Still, he’ll join this weekend’s all star festivities in North Carolina.

Commentators say Doncic often carries the team — game after game — win or lose. That pressure doesn't bother the Slovenian native.

“It’s something — I welcome it for sure,” Doncic says in his halting English. “I always want to be the guy, you know, that teammates can trust in me.”

This season, team members have entrusted Doncic as the Mav’s leading go-to shooter when the game’s on the line. Not only is he among the league’s top clutch shooters as the clock ticks down, he‘s also an expert passer and blocker.

Newly acquired teammate Tim Hardaway, Jr., a member of the NBA’s All-Rookie team in 2014, admires the teen’s skills.

“You know he’s great, you’ve got to give the kid credit,” Hardaway said in a recent press conference. “He goes out there and competes. He works his tail off and shoots the heck out of the ball. He not only makes the game easier for himself , but makes the game easier for his teammates. He’s leading by example right now.”

Fans vote their picks for the all-star team, and Doncic got  4.25 million, second behind LeBron James in the Western Conference. But media and players vote, too.  In the final tally, Doncic didn’t make the all-star team.

Did they get it right?

“If it was me I would say they missed it, because I want to play," Doncic said. "But maybe some guys deserve it more than me, I don't know.”

What we do know:

• On Friday, Feb. 15, Doncic will play in the Mtn Dew Ice Rising Stars game game as part of the 2019 All-Star NBA Weekend. It's a contest between some of the NBA’s best U.S.- born players against some of the best foreign stars.
• Saturday night, Feb. 16, he’ll compete in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, which tests dribbling, passing and 3-point shooting.

Not bad for the star who’s still a teenager.

Update: An earlier version of this story said Doncic received more than 6.25 million fan votes. He received 4.25 million.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.