Luka Doncic has taken the NBA by storm in just his second season as a pro. The Dallas Mavericks All-Star is averaging 28.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game this season.
He recently celebrated his 21st birthday on February 28, which is hard to believe considering he’s already become one of the most unguardable players in the NBA.
Doncic has already eclipsed 2,500 points, 500 rebounds, and 500 assists in his NBA career. The only other player to accomplish that feat before turning 21 is LeBron James.
Of all the ridiculous numbers associated with Doncic, the weirdest has to be the one on his back — 77. So why did the Slovenian superstar choose it?
Doncic fell into number 77 by accident
The number 77 originated from Doncic’s playing days with the Slovenian national team. Doncic first started playing for Slovenia in 2014. He played for the junior national team for one year before jumping to the senior national team in 2016.
Doncic grew up wearing 7, his favorite number. He originally chose 7 to honor his favorite European player growing up — Vassilis Spanoulis.
Kleman Prepelic, an older Slovenian player, already had Doncic’s number 7 for the national team. Doncic wore 7 for Real Madrid, but Prepelic was able to keep the number because he was a veteran and had the first choice.
Doncic didn’t argue. Instead, he added another 7 to his favorite number and became 77 for Slovenia.
When Doncic was drafted in 2018 and traded to the Mavericks, there was another number dispute. Dwight Powell already had 7 for the Mavs, so Doncic was forced again to ride with 77.
The 2017 FIBA Eurobasket is what put Doncic on the NBA radar
After switching to 77 for the Slovenian national team, Doncic led his country to the FIBA Eurobasket gold medal in 2017. Slovenia went 9-0 during the competition.
Doncic averaged 14.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game throughout the tournament. He scored 27 points in the quarterfinal against Latvia, then followed that performance with a triple-double against Spain in the semifinal.
The Slovenian phenom, nicknamed Wonderboy, shot up draft boards and immediately became the most prized European player eligible for the 2018 draft.
Doncic was eventually drafted third by the Atlanta Hawks and traded to the Mavericks.
Is Wonderboy already the best ever to wear 77?
There have only been 14 players in NBA history to ever don the number 77. The only other current NBA players who wore 77 this year were Demarre Carroll with the San Antonio Spurs and Vincent Poirier with the Boston Celtics.
Neither player is even close to Doncic’s pedigree.
Ersan Ilyasova wore 77 last year for the Milwaukee Bucks, and Andrea Bargnani did the same for the New York Knicks in 2014 and 2015. Other than that, the remaining list of players who wore 77 is underwhelming.
A majority of 77s are actually from European countries, such as Slovenia.
Doncic is by far the most talented player to ever wear 77 in the NBA. It might look odd for an NBA player to wear such a strange number, but Doncic can make anything look good on the court.