DALLAS - A year, ago, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban playfully challenged budding superstar Luka Doncic to follow up his brilliant rookie season by returning to America with "some abs.''
Now comes a similar challenge, though in the form of a rumor, that MVP candidate Luka has gotten "puffy,'' to use the word of ESPN's Tim MacMahon.
MacMahon recently appeared on the Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast and reported on all things Doncic while the Mavs standout has been voluntarily quarantined in his native homeland of Slovenia.
Is there a weight issue?
"Anytime Luka goes overseas and people don’t see him there’s going to be these rumors, ‘He’s beefing up again, he’s looking puffy,' MacMahon said. "That rumor’s out there. I asked.''
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We've also been told that this is a non-issue, but Tim took it one step beyond by detailing the activity that Doncic has been using - besides basketball, we assume - to stay in shape.
"I was told,'' MacMahon related, "that he looks looks fine on their Zoom calls, he’s been working out and he’s actually been playing Pickleball over in Slovenia.''
What we know about Luka at present: a) The hiatus has given his hand/thumb ailment time to fully heal, and b) We watched a teenage Doncic in Europe, playing at a championship level in the postseason. We're excited about "Playoff Luka.''
Yes, we have played Pickleball. It's fun, competitive, and good for the ol' cardio. (It's kind of like gigantic ping-pong.) As long as Luka is doing something to get ready for a return to the NBA - and a return to the States, along with a mini training camp and whatever plan the league has for its long-delayed postseason, we're invested.
With two months to go before the resumption of this NBA season, Doncic’s Mavs are currently sitting in the seventh seed in the West, hoping some of their competition - once we get under the bubble in Orlando - are the ones who show up "puffy.''