Luka Doncic's standout Tokyo 2020 performance tops summer to remember for basketball star

From a 48-point opening-game to helping Slovenia to within just one point of the gold-medal game, NBA superstar Luka Doncic's Olympic display showed the watching world why he is the next big thing.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Well ahead of Tokyo 2020 in 2021, Luka Doncic made it clear how serious his intentions were for Slovenia's first ever Olympic appearance in men's basketball.

When asked what he would choose between an NBA championship and an Olympic medal, the Dallas Mavericks star didn't hesitate when he responded: "I'd say gold medal with Slovenia."

While the 22-year-old didn't leave Japan with a medal, Doncic did everything to make sure his debut Olympic performance was a golden one.

Across six games, Slovenia went 4-2 overall, falling just short of an Olympic final after a heartbreaking one-point loss to France 90-89 in the semis. They were then beaten by Australia 107-93 in the bronze medal game, finishing the competition fourth overall.

As Olympic debut's go, the Slovenian's record was one for the ages, averaging over 23 points per game, while pulling down 58 rebounds across six games played, and dishing out 57 assists, including 18 against France.

Doncic's 48 points in Slovenia's opener vs. Argentina was the third most points scored in Olympic history, while his triple-double vs. France (16 points, 10 rebounds, and 18 assists) marked just the third time that feat has ever been achieved at the Games.

Though he may have been just shy of a podium finish, Doncic's scintillating display at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games only reinforced beliefs that the point guard is the real deal.

Slovenia stuns in basketball Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020

Making history with a first-ever Olympic appearance, Doncic and co. played with heart, passion, and pride, winning all three of their group games, before beating Germany 94-70 to advance to the semi-finals.

"It's unbelievable; a country of two million people being top four in the world," Doncic beamed after the Germany win.

"We really achieved a lot by just going to the Olympics, it was our first time in history [here]. It's incredible."

It was eventual silver medallists France that shattered what had been a perfect international record for Doncic; the Slovenian was 17-0 on the international stage prior to the loss, having helped his nation to the 2017 Eurobasket title.

The point guard's accuracy and consistency across the tournament also had his beaten rivals in awe.

"He doesn’t make many mistakes,” said Spain's Marc Gasol after their group loss to Slovenia. "He does a great job of controlling the tempo of the game."

"He was unbelievable. He was too good, obviously." Luis Scola of Argentina added after Doncic's 48-point performance against his team.

What's next for Luka Doncic?

With his obvious hunger for Olympic glory and quality star power, evidenced by his formidable game playing statistics, Doncic is without a doubt a star many would already like to see back at the Games for Paris 2024.

In the three years between Tokyo and then, the basketball superstar is perfectly poised to get even better as a player.

Fresh off the back of his impressive Olympic campaign, the Dallas Mavericks moved quickly to secure Doncic's services for the future, with a record supermax contract extension.

The deal, reportedly worth $207 million, will see Doncic stay under contract with the Mavericks from the start of the 2022-23 through to 2027.

"It's a very special moment," Doncic shared with the Mavs fans, putting his name next to what is the largest rookie contract extension in history. "I don't know what to say. I never imagined this happening. I was only dreaming of playing in the NBA."

The Slovenian was eligible for the supermax extension after making an all-NBA first, second, or third team twice in his first three seasons in the league, following his move to America from Real Madrid in Spain.

Doncic is a basketball player whose trajectory is trending sharply upwards. Could the superstar end 2024 with an Olympic medal and a NBA championship ring? Only time will tell.

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