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Mark Cuban Critical of Taunting, Mixtape Culture in Youth Basketball

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2018

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 17:  Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on October 17, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Suns defeated defeated the Mavericks 121-100.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Friday that star rookie Luka Doncic benefited from growing up outside the highlight-oriented culture of youth basketball in the United States.

Cuban told George Efkarpides of EuroHoops the "biggest gift" Doncic received was learning the game in his native Slovenia, where he could receive a true basketball education.

"If we took our best kids and seven years before they are McDonald's All-American, we sent them over to Slovenia to get an education, the league would be a thousand times better," he said. "They just learn how to play basketball, while our guys learn how to taunt and put together mixtapes."

Doncic was the third overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft and was dealt to Dallas as part of a draft-night trade with the Atlanta Hawks that saw No. 5 selection Trae Young head to the ATL.

The 19-year-old small forward is averaging 18.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.2 steals across his first 29 appearances with the Mavericks.

Cuban, who's far from alone in his criticism of the typically AAU-driven development of U.S. players, explained to Efkarpides getting to learn the game in Europe, including four years with Real Madrid in Spain, helped Doncic make a smooth transition.

"When you're gifted as he is and you actually learn to play the game," Cuban said. "If you look at the basketball education of kids starting at 11 years old in Europe and particularly Slovenia which is basketball oriented."

Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki was born and raised in Germany before getting his professional start with German club DJK Wurzburg. He's now been with Dallas for two decades.

So turning to Europe for a franchise cornerstone has worked wonders for the Mavs in the past, and the early returns suggest they may have struck gold again with Doncic.

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