My man Domonique Foxworth is one of the rising stars in the sports media game. His football analysis is on point, he’s aggressive, confident and insightful. And he never steers away from the subject of race.
However, when it came to NBA sensation Luka Doncic, we saw a sane and rational man lose all his reasoning skills and forget his American history.
Friday on ESPN, the team was discussing how remarkable it is that Luka and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks have more All-star votes than LeBron James.
Doncic, the second-year guard from the Dallas Mavs, leads all players with 1,073,957 votes — 599 more than Antetokounmpo, the top vote-getter in the Eastern Conference.
— Bret Mega (@BretMega) January 3, 2020
James is the only other player with more than one million votes through the initial round.
Fan voting accounts for 50% of the vote for the five starters — two backcourt and three frontcourt players — from each conference. The other 50% is split evenly among voting by media members and the players themselves.
It represents a changing of the guard in the NBA.
Greek Freak’s All-Star success, Foxworth says, is understandable because he is the reigning MVP. But he was at a loss for words as to how Doncic could become so popular so fast, which almost made me spit out my Coca Cola that I shouldn’t be drinking in the first place.
He marveled at the fact that Luka has been able to captivate the league while playing in a market like Dallas.
C’mon man. We know what it is. We know why he’s twice as discussed and highlighted by mainstream media as Trae Young, who is every bit as good in the eyes of some.
These young dudes are tough RT @BleacherReport: Luka Doncic and Trae Young are having two of the best second years ever ?
29.1 PPG (3rd in league)
8.9 APG (3rd in league)
28.5 PPG (4th in league)
8.3 APG (5th in league) pic.twitter.com/42Rbt01g4v
— Marty Kaan (@McDreamy_22) January 3, 2020
These factors have influenced Doncic’s swift rise to the NBA’s most popular player.
It starts with race and ends with the very global expansion and genius marketing that we have credited the late David Stern for influencing during his 20 year tenure as commissioner.
White superstars in the NBA are almost as rare as Black superstars in golf. A white NBA star, as legend has it, is worth three times as much as your top flight NBA star to a franchise.
For one, such players are almost nonexistent and there still hasn’t been a better white player in the league since Larry Bird, who hasn’t played since the early 90s.
In fact, most Americans have given up on a white American hoops superstar emerging. Kevin Love and Tyler Herro are the only names that come to mind and they are second-tier. JJ Reddick is a nice player.
Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki was German and let’s keep it a buck — HOF Canadian star Steve Nash was nasty with the pill and could shoot his ass off in D’Antoni’s inflated system, but race drove him to two MVPs and what some say is unwarranted popularity.
No white players have even approached the magnificence and celebrity status of those guys since. Doncic is Slovenian, but that’s more than OK. It won’t hurt his viability as a superstar in America. Doncic is a millenial and the culture or communication gaps that existed for past European stars aren’t there anymore in this social media age.
The white community is starving for white NBA superstars in the same way that the African-American community wants to see more brown faces in MLB and at QB in the NFL.
So for Luka to be white, young, spectacular and clearly one of the best talents in the game, immediately makes him a special player culturally, racially and generationally. A marketing no-brainer and international hero.
He is another example of Stern’s larger dream — to expand the game and develop foreign players who are considered the creme de la creme of American basketball.
Cutty from The Wire was right when he said, “The game done changed.” Though he was referring to the drug game, he could have easily been referencing the changing face of the NBA. And in response, Slim Charles was equally correct when he said, “The Game’s the same, just got more fierce.”
The NBA has never had an international talent pool that was this young and deep.
The Millenial MJ: Chosen One
Doncic, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, completed Thursday’s slate of games, averaging 29 points and 8.9 assists per game, third in the NBA in both categories. He is averaging 9.5 rebounds.
Last night he broke LeBron James’ record by posting his 13th game with 30 points, 10 boards and 5 assists before turning 21.
With such success, comes more global attention and Doncic’s popularity outside of America has done more to drive his growing fame in this country than anything else. The fact that there is a white face being considered for MVP and spoken about in the same breath as LeBron James, James Harden and other all-time greats just makes Luka a slam dunk.
From old heads to little girls with pigtails, Luka is becoming a major sports brand. He’s the modern day White Chocolate, with a way more polished Euro game.
Foxworth’s co-host also avoided the obvious racial component and instead she focused on the fact that ESPN and other outlets have been pushing Doncic down the throats of everyone — and justifiably so. With Zion missing the entire first half of the season, Doncic is all ESPN heads talk about, along with the Dallas Cowboys, LeBron and the Lakers.
We can’t forget the power of Technology…
Any voting that is done on the computer is going to favor the generation that has grown up existing by the click. At just 20 years old, Doncic has a 15-year gap in age with LeBron. He’s the baller that the 10-20 year old age group wants to play like. LeBron is their mom and dad’s favorite. Luka caught the wave and the kids are the ones who drive jersey sales, take time out to actually go online and vote for the players.
They live online, influence and drive the future of online culture. As much as I respect and enjoy Foxworth’s commentary, he needs to stay focused.
How could Doncic not be popular? Especially when he’s the goods. Most NBA fans have never seen a white boy that’s the baddest m’fer on the court. It’s still a novelty and in this case, the hype is real. But we definitely know why he’s leading in All-star votes Domonique, and so do you.