"Luka has become one of the biggest whiners in the NBA," said ESPN's Zach Lowe about the Mavericks superstar three months ago. "It's constant, every time he drives he is whining. He spent so much energy whining to the referees and slumping his shoulders to teammates, it sucked the life of the team many times."
A week later, Dončić owned up to his whiner label, saying that's something he needs to stop doing in the future. But he didn't. As of today, the 22-year-old superstar piled up 15 technical fouls and is one away from an automatic one-game suspension.
In a postgame interview, after the Mavericks' 113-109 win against the Nets, Luka readdressed the issue once again, wowing to avoid being called for his 16th technical.
I realize it. It's something that I'm not supposed to do. It's difficult with all the emotions in games, but obviously, I've got to stop. It's just hard for me on the court with all the emotions, but I realize it, and I've got to work on this. It's tough to do it, but I've got to work on it and be way better than this.
Luka Doncic, ESPN
With six games left in the regular season, as the fifth-seeded Mavericks are trying to avoid falling to the play-in spot, it's crucial that Luka stops with the complaining. Or at least puts it on hold. Technical fouls received during the regular season don't carry over into the playoffs, which will allow Dončić to have a fresh start. But he needs to keep his composure until Dallas gets there.
I've just got to learn to calm myself down and go on to the next play.
Luka Doncic, ESPN
Luka finished yesterday's game with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists, securing the Mavs' 38th win of the season. They now have a one-loss lead over the 6th seeded Lakers and the 7th seeded Trail Blazers (Portland owns the tiebreaker). The rest of their schedule features the Cavaliers (2x), Grizzlies, Pelicans, Raptors, and Timberwolves. They are all winnable games, but Luka has to be out there for the Mavs to maximize their chances.
So for the next six games, no more whining, Luka. The Mavs season is depending on it.