Sometimes, historical sports comparisons can feel lazy, understated, obvious and weirdly racial (notice that it’s almost always black players compared to other black players, and white players compared to other white players.)
That all being said, it doesn’t make the historical comps any less accurate.
Case in point: Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic has drawn comparisons from the outset of his career to Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird. Both stars play a remarkably similar game, with their ability to score from virtually anywhere on the court as well as their precognitive passing. And yes, they are both white.
Anyhow, Doncic has essentially lived up to immeasurable hype, spearheading the Mavericks to playoff berths in all but one of his seasons while also garnering All-Star berths and All-NBA nominations. Has it been mentioned yet that Doncic is still only 23 years old?
Doncic is, despite already averaging an impressive 27.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8 assists a game for his career, having another stellar year. In fact, given his scoring punch and efficiency, as well as a newfound commitment to defense, Doncic is having a career year this season, which is quite the accomplishment.
Which is all to say, Doncic’s heroics this year have already been quantifiable and impressive. This makes his Tuesday night heroics all the more so impressive.
The Mavericks clawed their way to a home win over the New York Knicks (sweeping the season series in the process), to the tune of a 126-121 overtime win over New York.
Luka Doncic is the first player EVER in NBA history to record 60+ PTS, 20+ REB, and 10+ AST in a game.
— NBA (@NBA) December 28, 2022
While the win has its own historical implications (The Mavericks haven’t beaten the Knicks in Dallas since 2017), the story of the game was really Doncic’s insane stat line.
And boy, what a story that was.
Doncic notched 60 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in the win, which are eye-popping enough on their own. But when you look at the historical implications of it? It’s almost otherworldly at that point.
Luka Doncic is the only player in NBA history to ever record 60+ PTS, 20+ REB, and 10+ AST in a game. pic.twitter.com/0Io2BVx9Rq
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) December 28, 2022
As ESPN notes, Doncic is, quite literally, the only player in NBA history to notch at least 60 points, at least 20 rebounds and at least 10 assists in a game.
Even Wilt Chamberlain, whose exploits are now the stuff of legends, never tallied a total statistical output like that. And as any basketball fan or player can tell you, if you’re even sniffing around Wilt Chamberlain records, you’re in rare air. In fact, Doncic joins a very short list that includes Chamberlain and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor to register a 50-point, 20-rebound triple-double. (Worth noting, blocks were not an official stat during Chamberlain’s peak; otherwise, he probably would have a few more unbreakable records.)
Chamberlain did notch a 53 point, 32 rebound, 14 assist triple-double once (as mentioned above, the stuff of legends) and a 51 point, 29 rebound, 11 assist triple-double, but was never quite able to fill up the stat sheet and get over the 60-point barrier. Given that Wilt is still the only person in NBA history to score 100 points in a game, it should be telling about how difficult it was for even one of the NBA’s all-time greats to hit 60 points.
Think about that again. A kid from Slovenia, often derided as being a bit doughy and out of shape, pulled off the greatest stat-stuffing game in NBA history. It’s a claim to fame that NBA legends like Chamberlain, Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant can’t make. And, again, Doncic is just barely old enough to drink alcohol.
Doncic’s performance drew some heavy praise from the sports world.
NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe lauded Doncic’s performance, using the hashtag “#BabyBird” to refer to Doncic’s Bird-esque qualities”
Luka has the 1st 60 20 10 Triple Double in NBA history and I saw it. #BabyBird 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) December 28, 2022
Former NBA great Kevin Garnett hinted that the Mavericks will eventually need to build a statue for Doncic:
It’ll be another statue in Dallas… Luka is like that! 🤷🏾♂️
— Kevin Garnett (@KevinGarnett5KG) December 28, 2022
And cancer survivor and beloved college basketball icon Dick Vitale gave Doncic perhaps the greatest compliment he’s ever doled out:
Wow the stamina physical & mental toughness @luka7doncic demonstrated in this legendary effort.@dallasmavs were DOWN 9 with 33seconds left but the Miraculous plays by Luka created ot.I’m in AWE of what LUKA did tonight .He has earned all the praise that is being given to him .
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) December 28, 2022
Making one last bit of history, it should be noted that not only did Mavs vs. Knicks feature a stat line nobody has ever seen, it also featured a comeback that nobody has seen in at least 13,884 attempts. As ESPN noted, the Mavs overcame a nine-point deficit with 35 seconds left in the game. The previous 13,884 times that happened over the past two decades, the team facing that deficit lost.
That record now sits at 1-13,884, thanks to Doncic and his historic game.
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