Luka MRI Injury Update; Recalling A Dirk, Cuban, Nellie NBA Playoffs Crossroads

Luka Doncic 'Nothing Alarming' MRI Injury Update - And Recalling A Dirk, Cuban, Nellie NBA Playoffs Crossroads For The Dallas Mavericks
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Certainly it will never come to this. No arguments. No professional divorces. No lawsuits.

But in terms of the NBA Playoffs and the Dallas Mavericks, it is fair to suggest the Luka Doncic ankle injury will mean a crossroads decision for the player and the franchise ... just as was the case with Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs in 2003.

That knee was a brick in the crumbling wall of the Mark Cuban vs. Don Nelson feud that literally culminated in a 2009 lawsuit, and the two former Mavs bosses and pals fighting over money in front of a judge. 

To be sure, Luka's ankle isn't the same as Dirk's knee. The ankle is sprained, there is no particular threat of permanent damage, and Doncic - the MVP candidate who exited Friday's Game 3 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Playoffs bubble in Orlando - will certainly try to play in Sunday's 2:30 p.m. CT Game 4.

Still, coach Rick Carlisle on Saturday called this "a game-time decision,'' adding that while the "questionable'' Doncic often plays through pain, "We don't want him to play injured.''

Echoing that, from teammate Maxi Kleber: "He's our franchise player, for a long time, so we don't want to take any unnecessary risks.''

Carlisle added that Doncic is not doing anything in the Saturday workout beyond treatment, and that the planned MRI has somehow been goofed up due to a glitz in the machinery inside the Orlando bubble.

But now, news on that MRI ...

"Nothing alarming'' is a positive for now.

In any event, injuries and how to handle them are always key ... and in that sense, the Nowitzki situation is a fascinating learning tool.

During that 2009 hearing, Cuban and Nelson offered their versions of how their relationship unraveled, beginning with their disagreement over whether budding star Nowitzki should play against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the 2003 Western Conference finals.

Nelson's position: Nowitzki, who had suffered a knee injury earlier in the series, should not play, the coach viewing the future-injury risk as too great.

Cuban's position: Dirk should play, especially as, according to the owner, he had assurances from team doctors that Nowitzki couldn't hurt the knee any worse.

And Cuban went beyond that, accusing Nelson of trying to take pressure off himself by keeping the player on the bench. ... thus giving the Mavs an excuse if they lost.

Which they did, because Nowitzki did indeed sit.

"I didn't want to jeopardize this great young player's career for a basketball game, no matter how important it seemed at the time," Nelson testified.

Cuban countered in his testimony that there had been medical advances for such injuries since Nelson played, which was 40 years prior.

READ MORE: Mavs Lose Game 3 To Clippers - And Lose Luka Doncic, Too

READ MORE: Mavs Luka Doncic Insists 'It's Not That Bad'

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The Dirk knee injury was being dealt with almost 20 years ago. Mavs fans hope the same positive argument made then for him can be made now for Doncic - that "medical advances'' and what coach Rick Carlisle calls "every advanced treatment modality that you can have,'' or prayer, or luck or pain tolerance - will return the star to the floor, safely and soon.