The NBA is a superstar-driven league where the top players are usually on the right side of a whistle. Luka Doncic is one of the superstars who either gets the calls on his side or lets the officials know when he doesn’t.
As talented as Doncic is, the Dallas Mavericks star is quickly developing a reputation as someone who’s constantly mouthing off at referees. The worse Dallas plays, the more we typically see Luka voicing his complaints after his idea of a blown call.
Wednesday night, the Mavericks were handed a 30-point loss by the New York Knicks. Doncic finished with 31 points but did so while complaining to the officiating crew throughout the game. Following one particular incident, Knicks commentator and NBA legend Walt Frazier unleashed a harsh reponse on the three-time All-Star.
Luka Doncic is hurting the Mavericks by complaining to officials
If it wasn’t for the efforts of guys like Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid, Doncic would be heavily in the mix for his first league MVP. The 23-year-old is averaging 28.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 8.7 assists for the 40-26 Mavs.
Yet when fans watch Luka, they can expect to see him throw up his hands in disgust when he disagrees with a call on the floor.
The fourth-year guard is having a difficult time controlling his emotions on the court. While his passion is to be commended, officials routinely draw his ire.
Oftentimes, Doncic is only making matters worse. Although he’s able to get to the line for 7.4 attempts per game, he’s picked up an NBA-leading 14 technical fouls. So not only has he given the other team 14 free-throw attempts and possessions, but he’s now just one tech away from receiving an automatic one-game suspension.
Dallas head coach Jason Kidd has talked about Doncic’s issues with keeping cool, especially when it comes to missed or blown calls.
“You’re not going to get any calls,” Kidd told ESPN and other media members after a December loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. “Officials, they tend to not stop the game to change calls. You have to understand there’s a point in time in games — dead balls — to be able to talk to officials.”
Walt Frazier ripped Doncic during the Mavericks-Knicks broadcast
Even after Kidd’s warnings and Doncic admitting he needs to be better, the young star is still letting his emotions get the better of him.
With 5:19 left in Dallas’ 107-77 loss against New York, Luka drew a foul from veteran Taj Gibson. Once the ref ruled the foul came before his shot attempt, Doncic ran right up to the whistle blower to voice his complaints. Seconds later, he was hit with a technical foul.
Throughout the interaction, MSG Network announcers Mike Breen and Walt “Clyde” Frazier were talking about Doncic receiving the tech. Frazier, a seven-time All-Star and two-time champion with the Knicks, didn’t hold back on criticizing Luka (h/t: MSG Network).
“He’s always crying. … He’s gotta be the biggest crybaby in the league.”Walt Frazier
After the game, Doncic dismissed the question about picking up that league-leading technical foul.
“Nothing, it was nothing,” Doncic said to the media. “Just can’t no more.”
Doncic losing his cool again could be costly
Thanks in large part to Luka, the Mavericks are in prime position to play playoff basketball. But their seed is still up for debate, making every game really count down the stretch.
Dallas is in the five-seed, trailing the Utah Jazz by 1.5 games. However, it possesses a half-game lead over the surging Denver Nuggets led by reigning MVP Jokic. Should they fall to the six-seed, the Mavericks would have to go through the tough Golden State Warriors or Memphis Grizzlies in the first round instead of the Jazz.
There’s also a possibility that Dallas could even fall down to the play-in round. The Minnesota Timberwolves are only 2.5 games back and have two head-to-head games against the Mavericks coming up later this month.
So how does this apply to Doncic? With the Slovenian sensation on the brink of a suspension, the Mavericks can’t afford to lose their MVP for an important regular-season or playoff game. Not when one game can be the difference between a spot in the top-six or playing in a one-game playoff for your life.
Doncic should control his emotions for the rest of this year and moving forward. Otherwise, he’ll have more people sharing Frazier’s sentiments in no time.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.