Luka vs. Zion

The Association is in very good hands once the baton is passed.

Jim Rome
March 05, 2020 - 10:06 am
Zion Williamson and Luka Doncic

USA Today


When LeBron said the other day that the rookie class was special, he wasn’t lying. This rookie class is special, and the group of second year players doesn’t suck either. How special is this rookie class? Ja Morant makes missed dunks look incredible. Check this from last night’s Grizzlies-Nets game.

Oh, Morant! The crank!

Run it back again.

If he actually finished that off, you’d never hear the end of it. I’d have devoted an entire show to that dunk. That arena would’ve imploded. And twitter would have shattered once and for all. So in a way, it’s maybe a good thing that he missed it.

And then there was New Orleans at Dallas later on, which meant the first meeting of Zion and Luka. The rookie versus last year’s rookie of the year. And the vet had something for the rook.

That’s not to say that Zion didn’t have his moments. He did. He always will. Even in a game where Dallas threw everything at him and made life difficult, he still had 21 and 6. And he still had moments like this no-look dish.

And then look at big dude go straight at the Mavs and straight BULLY right here.

Zion just putting on guys on the ground and then throwing down. That is like a Mack truck with no brakes coming downhill at you. And my best advice is: don’t try to take a charge. Just get out of the way and live to play another day.

But last night was the rare night when Zion was playing that he wasn’t the biggest star on the court and he didn’t have the most “holy bleep” moments. Some of that might have been because he was playing his first back-to-back ever and he’s still getting his legs under him.

But really, most of it was because Luka was running on the same floor.

30 points. 17 rebounds. 10 assists.

He just broke the Mavs franchise record for career triple doubles. And he did it in his second season, just a few days after his 21st birthday, and with a busted up thumb that required x-rays.

And he started early.

Hey Knicks fans, how are you doing? How’s your week going? Still feel pretty good about that Kristaps trade? How’s that working out? Still going to use that space to get Kyrie and KD?

Kristaps had 34 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks. But I’m sure that trade is still going to work out great for the Knicks.

But enough about the Knicks being garbage. Back to Luka.

I could go through the entire game, highlight by highlight, like the early three over Zion. Or one ridiculous pass after another. 

But let’s just skip straight to overtime. Because that was where Luka put on a clinic.

Stepback three.

Perfect pocket pass to Porzingis.

And then the highlight to end all highlights from the night, putting Jrue Holiday on skates.

Let me say a couple of things about that clip. First off, Jrue Holiday is an elite defender. He’s an all-defensive team first team guy. And Luka got him not once, but twice on the clip. Got him going backwards, pulled him forward, and then blew past him.

Just put one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders in a blender and hit “pulverize.”

And here is the other thing to say about this clip. Maxi Kleber, what are you doing?

If the game is in overtime and Luka’s just humiliated a defender like that and set you up for a wide open three to end the game, you have to make that shot. You absolutely have to. Missing is not an option.

Luka does all of that and puts the ball in the perfect spot and you miss it? Come on, man. You simply cannot do that. You did a great job on Zion all game and then you go and ruin that performance by puking all over yourself at the very end.

At least Luka was there to bail you out by tapping the rebound out to a teammate to retain possession. But you simply cannot let that happen. You had the Mona Lisa in your hands and you vomited all over it. Or, as the great Tom Crabtree once tweeted:

Imagine you make a painting. It isn’t perfect by others’ standards, but it’s your painting. You are proud. Then someone takes a bleep on it.

Except that painting was perfect. That highlight from Luka was that good, and then the shot was that bad. But I guess I’ll let it slide, since you did monster work on the defensive end against Zion. It was his defense against the rookie that put the second-year star in position to dominate in overtime.

In any other year, any year that Giannis isn’t doing what he’s doing, Luka is an MVP candidate in his second season. There is so much talent among the young guys. Ja, Zion, Luka, Trae, the list goes on. Last night was a reminder that the next generation isn’t just on its way, they are already here. And they are already damn good. The association is in very good hands once the baton is passed; or better yet, once they rip it from LeBron’s cold, dead hands.