Luka Doncic has used a lot of energy this season advocating and arguing with the referees. He knows that energy would be better spent elsewhere.
The Dallas Mavericks were hoping to break into the ranks of fringe contenders this season but instead, they’ve struggled to play consistently. COVID-related absences took their toll and a 6-4 start was followed by a 6-10 stretch that has them below 0.500 and currently outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
Frustration has been obvious, up and down the roster, and particularly Luka Doncic’s frustration with the referees. Fans and media members have pointed out repeatedly how much time he is spending arguing with referees and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith asked him about it directly during a recent interview.
What did Luka Doncic have to say about arguing with the referees?
The key quote is here:
"“I think some of it is true, because you know — especially this year — but I think the last couple of games I’ve been getting better and better. I gotta stop this, I know it’s not right. But I think more than whining, it’s just wanting to win. We were in a bad spot for six losses in a row, and that just makes you do things you don’t want to do. I know I did a lot of things wrong, and I gotta learn from this. I’m still young, and I can learn from this.”"
It’s great to hear Doncic acknowledge that it’s a problem and one that he’s aware of. I’m not sure how noticeable a difference there has been in the past few games but keeping the idea in your head is the first step to change. And, there are certainly times where Doncic has a point or at least his frustration with a lack of calls is understandable. He’s driving an average of 23.4 times per game and drawing a foul on 1.7 of them. That’s a lot of contact he’s playing through, even if they aren’t all actually fouls.
Doncic is exceptional and everyone just wants to see him do what he does best — play basketball. It sounds like that’s what he wants too.