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Luka Doncic: Winning Gold Medal With Slovenia Would Mean More Than NBA Championship

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 3, 2021

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Luka Doncic wants it all in his basketball career, but he said Saturday that winning an Olympic gold medal with Slovenia would mean more to him than winning an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks.

While Doncic had to choose between the two within the framework of the question he was asked, he added that he "wouldn't mind both."

Eurohoops @Eurohoopsnet

Gold medal with the national team or an NBA championship? <br><br>Luka Doncic chooses success with Slovenia <a href="https://t.co/W5URLOK1DF">pic.twitter.com/W5URLOK1DF</a>

After he and the Mavericks fell to the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games in the first round of the 2020-21 NBA playoffs, Doncic joined the Slovenian national team in an effort to get his home country into the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

On the heels of Doncic and Slovenia beating Venezuela 98-70 in a qualifier Saturday, Slovenia is just one win away from making the Olympic field.

Since becoming an independent nation in 1991, Slovenia has never qualified for the Olympic Games. The country has made strides as a basketball power in recent years, however.

With Doncic leading the way, Slovenia went 9-0 at EuroBasket 2017 and won the tournament, marking its only gold medal in a major men's senior event.

The 22-year-old Doncic is one of the best young basketball players in the world with two All-Star nods to his credit in three NBA seasons.

Doncic, who was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2019, is coming off a highly productive 2020-21 campaign in which he averaged 27.7 points, 8.6 assists, 8.0 rebounds and 2.9 three-pointers made per game.

The Mavs have reached the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, losing to the Clippers in the first round each time.

With Doncic continuing to make strides and Jason Kidd taking over as the Mavericks' new head coach, there is plenty of hope for Dallas to take the next step in 2021-22 and beyond.

If Slovenia makes the Olympics, it will have an uphill climb to winning a gold medal, as the United States will be heavy favorites to win a fourth Olympic gold in a row.

With Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum headlining a star-studded roster, something unforeseen will have to happen in order for Team USA to fall short.

The door is wide open for a team like Slovenia to emerge as the biggest threat to the United States, though, especially with star players like Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons deciding against playing for Serbia and Australia, respectively.

Slovenia doesn't have the depth of talent that the United States does, but with a player like Doncic running the show, it is possible the Slovenians could give the Americans a run for their money.

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