Emmitt Smith in New York, leading the Dallas Cowboys to the NFC East crown despite a separated shoulder.
Dirk Nowitzki at Reunion Arena, nonchalantly picking up his tooth en route to 30 points in a playoff victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
Nolan Ryan on the mound for the Texas Rangers in Arlington, bloody after brawling but still blowing heat past the Chicago White Sox.
And in Orlando on Sunday afternoon we were treated to Luka Doncic …
With 43 points. And 17 rebounds. And 13 assists. And one iconic buzzer beater.
And one leg.
"He sees the game in 6G," said Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, grasping to explain the Game 4-and-more brilliance of the Slovenian Sensation. "This game was from another planet."
For his epic, classic exclamation point on a performance that will live forever in Dallas-Fort Worth sports history, Doncic took an inbound pass with 3.7 seconds remaining, patiently sized up his smaller defender, dribbled between his legs and then calmly stepped back to 30 feet and arched an unfathomable 3-pointer that sent the Mavericks to one of their most exhilarating and improbable playoff wins in franchise history.
In overtime: Mavericks 135, Los Angeles Clippers 133.
"When I see the whole team running toward me (in celebration)," said Luka, that was something special. One of the best feelings I've ever had."
Feels like at this point we should all take a deep breath and remember how much we missed sports. And how fortunate we are to be witnessing the birth and irrationally fast growth of Luka Legend.
Playing on a left ankle he gruesomely sprained just 40 hours before, Doncic led the Mavs with his uncanny combination of guile and guts. In a remarkable game that featured eight lead-changes in overtime, it came to Dallas’ final possession.
The Clippers, seemingly poised to take a 3-1 series lead, were up 133-132 after a clutch corner 3-pointer by Marcus Morris. But Doncic, 21 going on 31, measured defender Reggie Jackson, the winding clock and his 30-foot rainbow.
Doncic scored Dallas’ final seven points, and became just the third player in NBA playoff history (joining Oscar Robertson and Charles Barkley) with a triple-double of at least 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.
Said coach Carlisle during the game, “He’s a bad boy. He’s a tough dude.”
The Mavericks, who played without second-leading scorer Kristaps Porzingis (balky knee), have won two playoff games for the first time since 2014 and try to build on this unprecedented momentum in Game 5 Tuesday night at 8 CT.
In this scintillating game "from another planet," the Mavs trailed by 21 early, led by 12 late and went to overtime after not being able to nurse a 119-111 lead with 2:44 remaining. Dallas failed to score a basket on its final five regulation possessions, fortunate to get into overtime when Kawhi Leonard missed a wing 3-pointer at the buzzer.
With Doncic visibly limited, and at times altogether limping, the Mavericks’ game and gumption both initially slumped. Down 11 early, Carlisle even resorted to J.J. Barea and Justin Jackson, neither of whom played in the first three games.
But a funny thing happened on the way to being blown out and raising the white flag on the series and the season. Doncic’s ankle warmed up, following by his production.
The Mavericks trailed 54-33 in the second quarter when they dipped into desperation and the Clippers relaxed. They played with heart. They played harder.
Behind Boban Marjanovic, Seth Curry and Trey Burke, they pulled within eight at the half. A stunning 15-2 run was supplemented by a game-changing 14-0 spurt early in the third.
A Doncic wing 3-pointer, followed by two head-fake baskets in the lane. Then he blocked a shot. Attracted a double-team in the paint, and deftly found an open Tim Hardaway Jr. with a pinpoint pass for a 3-pointer. Doncic dazzled and dominated in the third, accounting for 25 points on 13 points and five assists.
Defensively, the Mavs adjusted by double-teaming Leonard in post. They also got two blocked shots from Maxi Kleber, who refused to allow abysmal 3-point shooting (1 of 16 in the series) to mitigate his effort and hustle.
With Doncic getting treatment on his ankle via massage gun and then riding a stationary bicycle, the Mavs built their lead to as many as 106-94. When he came back, the Mavs needed every last drop of energy and every last point.
Game 3, according to the Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell, featured a “B---- A-- White Boy.”
Game 4, according to everyone, featured a “Luka Legend.”