DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks open their NBA season tonight at Phoenix alongside excitement about Game 2 on Christmas Day at the Lakers, a Friday showdown that LeBron James vows not to miss dismiss despite an ankle problem.
"I turned it pretty good, but I don't think it's going to stop me from playing on Friday," James said after sitting out the final eight minutes of the defending-champion Lakers' 116-109 Wednesday loss to the Clippers.
James' rehab plan?
"I'll go home and have dinner right now," James joked. "I'll ice it, and I'll drink some wine that will flow right to the ankle. ... I can make sure I can drink on the left side of my body so it just goes right down to my left leg, right down to my ankle.''
The much-anticipated Christmas game marks an anointing of sorts for Doncic, in his third NBA season considered a serious rival of LeBron's - or maybe even the favorite - for the 2020-21 league MVP trophy. James is a perennial contender for that honor (captured back-to-back now by Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo). But the fact that Luka's team is featured on the NBA's nationally-televised annual "coming-out party'' is telling.
LeBron (line vs. the Clippers: 22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 turnovers in 28 minutes) is among the greatest idols of the 21-year-old Slovenian Doncic, who joined him as a first-team All-NBA performer and top-four finisher in MVP voting last year.
As Doncic has said, "I look up to him as an idol.''
And LeBron's thoughts on Luka? "I love everything Luka stands for,'' he said.
But next for Dallas comes a Wednesday visit to The Valley of the Sun. And next for LeBron comes wine and rehab.
"You know how I am about treatment,'' he said. "So I'll do that around the clock and I think I should be fine by (Friday)."