As noted in an addendum to our earlier post on the “mysterious” Luka Dončić, there are some concerns (at least at one basketball blog) regarding how much we know about Luka’s off-the-court activities, etc. With that in mind, we at Courtside Diaries have done the extremely difficult (just kidding) work of finding his lengthiest interview (from January of this year), finding someone in the European basketball community on Twitter who speaks Slovenian, and having them translate the interview — thanks very much to sports journalist Tilen Jamnik for agreeing to help us out. Truly we are thrilled to help uncover part of Luka’s feelings about driving exams, Pablo Laso, playing for Slovenia, etc. We will work on finding out his favorite breakfast foods in the future.
All credit for the initial interview goes to Franci Pavšer, published originally in Slovenian on Val 202. This version is slightly shorter than the full interview, though we may eventually publish the entire thing, depending on interest/availability of Slovenian translators. Enjoy.
Q. Monday was a long day for you, as we say “long as Monday”. You had theory for your driving license and, after that, practice. What did you remember the most?
I think that this time I will remember the theoretical driving test more. I was really glad that I made it.
Q. Probably you had to study a lot?
Yes, I’ve been studying for the last two weeks and it looks like it’s paid off.
Q. Was it hard, because it was in Spanish?
Now that I’m here for five years I don’t have problems. I speak fluently. Now there are no problems, the problem was to learn it.
Q. Many young people dream about playing for Real, but your dreams are now to have a driving license, right?
Yes, because I’m already playing for Real. But since I was little, I wanted to play for a club like Real. So I’m living my dreams. Now, I want to have a driving license. Actually driving will be easier, theory was tough.
Q. You are equal to your teammates on the floor, but not in the parking lot. How do you feel when they jump into their amazing cars, but you search for where your mom is waiting?
They are 30-years-old or something, so that’s normal. They would like to have somebody who would drive them to practices and games, and I want to drive myself.
Q. So they envy you?
Yes, they envy me and I envy them.
Q. Best selling jersey is Llull’s and then, already, yours …
They don’t tell you that, but I think it’s true. Better you play, more jerseys will be sold. I think they’ve sold a lot of jerseys during holidays. Many people stop me on the streets, especially teenagers who are my age.
Q. What’s your relationship with coach Pablo Laso like?
Pablo is one of the best coaches in Europe and our relationship is great. During games I apologize to him if I make a mistake, especially in defense. But in offense, I think you have to shoot when you have open shot or good opportunity. If the shot is good, coach doesn’t say anything.
Q. You are very recognizable on YouTube, cameramen have been looking for you … Who posts this?
I don’t know. I don’t know anyone who is publishing those videos. As a junior player, I watched those videos a little bit more, but now I try to avoid this.
Q. Under Spanish rules juvenile basketball players do not give interviews. We waited a long time for this opportunity and now one month before your age of majority we can finally talk. Did you like it when you had peace, or it was hard to wait to finally talk to the media?
I think that both. On one hand, I was a bit eager to give some interviews when I watched others giving them. On the other hand, I also liked that I had peace. But now I’m happy that I can talk to media. I like it.
Q. But you probably wanted to say something, when there were so many public guesses about which national team you will play for? They were saying for Slovenia, Spain, Serbia, Montenegro …
There was no debate about it. Never. I wasn’t nervous about it, because I always wanted to play only for Slovenia and I will always play just for Slovenia.
Q. In fact, there was quite a bit of uncertainty about it, although for example the Slovenian Federation said that you promised them to play for Slovenia. Last September you had enough of everything and you tweeted that you will play only for Slovenia. Now, for the first time, you can tell us how it is with this.
As I said, I always wanted to play only for Slovenia. I gave my promise to the basketball federation and I will fulfill this promise.
Q. Every summer something happened and got in the way, from injury to the fight for your place in Real’s team, right?
Yes, but this year, If I’m healthy and everything is fine, I will take part in EuroBasket.
Q. Did it hurt you when some people declared you as a player who doesn’t want to play for Slovenia?
It hurt a little bit, but I think this is normal because they were afraid that I would play for another national team. But I was calm, because I knew that I would play for Slovenia.
Q. I’ve heard that here in Spain they ask you if you will play for Spain. Is often this a question at press conferences?
It’s a frequent question, but I, my agent or my family, we didn’t get any invitation to play for Spain. Only Jorge Garbajosa as team manager once said that I have an open door, but there was no invitation.
Q. What do you expect from EuroBasket? What are your ambitions, certainly not just to be there?
I think that at this EuroBasket, with Goran, Zoran (Dragić) and all the others…we want to get a medal.
Q. You will play together with Goran Dragić, who is an NBA star. Are you excited?
I was just thinking about it. Gogi is one of the best point guards in the NBA. I am really looking forward to playing with him.
Q. Do you have many plans on how to improve your game?
Of course, there are many plans. Everything can be improved and I have a lot to improve.