Mavs' Mark Cuban Wants to Play Preseason Games vs. Real Madrid, Overseas Teams

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2021

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban yells at an official in an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)
Richard W. Rodriguez/Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks players may become very familiar with the European Union if team governor Mark Cuban has his way. 

Cuban told the New York Times' Marc Stein he'd like to schedule NBA preseason games against Real Madrid and in Slovenia when the COVID-19 pandemic slows enough to allow for international travel.

Those two scenarios aren't a coincidence. Luka Doncic is a native of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and spent four seasons at Real Madrid before making the leap to the NBA. Doncic was the 2018 EuroLeague MVP while leading Madrid to a title in the competition.

Playing abroad isn't that rare for NBA teams. Through its Global Games initiative, the league has routinely staged events in international markets to increase its foothold around the world.

NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told reporters in December people within the league "do anticipate that once it becomes healthy and safe to be able to do that that we'll return to a schedule of international preseason and regular-season games."

Because of Doncic, the Mavericks are one of the more obvious teams to take part when that starts back up again. Beyond his European connection, the 21-year-old is poised to be one of the biggest faces of the NBA—if he isn't already—when LeBron James eventually retires.

The league's decision to pit the Mavericks against the Los Angeles Lakers in prime time on Christmas Day reinforced how important the NBA expects Doncic to be going forward.