Luka Dončić returns to Madrid on a trip he will never forget

Following the Dallas Mavericks two preseason games against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Abu Dhabi, the team traveled to Madrid, Spain for their preseason matchup against Real Madrid. The city of Madrid and basketball club Real Madrid share a special connection with Luka Dončić, as he played for Real Madrid from 2015 – 2018.

During his time with Real Madrid, Dončić’s development as a player significantly increased and he played a crucial role in the team’s success. Dončić became the youngest-ever EuroLeague and EuroLeague Final Four MVP as he helped lead Real Madrid to the 2018 EuroLeague title at age 19.

Dončić won back-to-back EuroLeague Rising Star awards (2017, 2018), joining Nikola Mirotić and Bogdan Bogdanović as the only repeat winners. Dončić is a member of the EuroLeague All-Decade Team (2010-20) and was named an honorary member of the Real Madrid Football Club in 2021.

“Following our preseason games in Abu Dhabi, we are thrilled to play the game we love for the MFFLs in Madrid,” said Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall. “Our team is lucky to have one of the greatest international NBA ambassadors in Luka, and we look forward to connecting with Real Madrid and their fans.”

“I have been waiting months for this game and it is going to be one of the most special of my career. Without Real Madrid, I would not be where I am now.” Luka Dončić stated to media during training camp.

Before the game, the Mavericks organization enjoyed some exciting events throughout the capital of Spain. Below is a recap of the events the team enjoyed during their time in Madrid.

Luka Honored as ‘Ambassador of the Community’

The President of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ausyo, presented Luka Dončić with an Honorary Ambassador of the Community plaque. During the presentation, Ayuso stated, “It is an honor to have him in our house and he reminds us that he will forever be another Madrid native.” She also expressed the city’s gratitude and happiness when Dončić shares both the football and basketball club’s achievements, which he frequently does through social media. Overall, the event served as a wonderful opportunity for both Dončić and Madrid to show their mutual appreciation and affection. 

Mavs Unveil Two New Courts in Madrid

On Monday, the Dallas Mavericks unveiled two new basketball courts at the Parque Rodriguez Sahagun which is located in the Tetuan district of Madrid. This initiative is the second of its kind in Europe spearheaded by the Mavs, with the first being the installation of new courts in Dončić’s hometown of Celje, Slovenia. During the unveiling, Mav’s CEO, Cynt Marshall emphasized the organization’s belief in giving back. Other notable figures in attendance included Madrid mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida, players O-Max Prosper and Derek Lively II, and local school students.

Mavs vs. Real Madrid

In Tuesday’s matchup, the Dallas Mavericks fell to Real Madrid 123 – 127. In the final four minutes of the game, Real Madrid had a surge despite the Mavs being in the lead since halftime. Unfortunately, Dončić was limited to five minutes of play during the game due to a calf strain obtained prior, but he still ended the game with 9 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Mavs in scoring with 21 points while Facundo Campazzo led Real Madrid with 20 points.

Dončić wanted to play more but the staff wouldn’t allow it due to cautionary reasons. Dončić stated postgame that the injury was minor and GM Nico Harrison will plan a return to Spain for another exhibition game in a few years.

Dončić received a replica of the EuroLeague trophy, from Real Madrid and was surprised with members from the 2018 team.

Luka as a Tour Guide

Dončić took time out to show the organization around his old stomping grounds in Madrid during the trip. The All-NBA First Team guard spent time as a tour guide for his teammates as he led player dinners in Spain. That type of leadership is notable from the 24 year old. The outcome of games might not have been to the team’s liking but the trip overall gave the roster an experience to bond and spend valuable time with one another ahead of the season.

Impact on Growing the Game Globally

While the Mavs playing globally during the preseason is exciting for fans to follow, it also carries a more significant impact. Not only are the Mavs growing the game of basketball globally, but they are also leaving a lasting impression on the places they visit. They inspire and demonstrate what’s achievable while spreading ways for people to stay involved and connected with the sport and the NBA. As Cynt Marshall said at the court unveiling, “We are investing in the dreams of these young people and their parents. Who knows? Maybe we could have another great NBA or WNBA player coming off of these courts.” 

At the beginning of the 2022 season the NBA announced that the league had 120 international players from 40 countries on opening rosters. Of those 120 players, 58 of them were from Europe. Over time the NBA has consistently witnessed a growing presence of international players entering the league each year. If this trend persists, the Mavs travels also hold value as it assists them in gaining exposure in areas they could potentially recruit talent from in the future.

Besides this, it is a nice sentiment that underscores appreciation for the communities that were vital in nurturing players on the Mavs roster today, like Dončić. It also demonstrates that the organization will remain invested in their player’s interests and passions within their respective communities.

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