No one is saying NBA players don't hear things from opposing fans that no person should hear from another human being, but Luka Dončić might have acted a bit rashly on Wednesday.
The Dallas Mavericks star requested a fan be ejected in the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns, which his team was hurtling toward a 132-109 loss in a game it once led by 16. With the Mavericks down by double digits, Dončić pointed the fan out for security.
The offending trash talk, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon: "Luka, you're tired! Get your ass on the treadmill!"
Luka Doncic asked security to eject this Suns fan, who was sitting two rows behind midcourt press row. The comment the fan made that drew Doncic’s wrath: “Luka, you’re tired! Get your ass on the treadmill!” pic.twitter.com/chNYwiJBC0
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) January 25, 2024
If that's the worst Dončić hears this season, a familiar dig at his fitness, he'll be lucky.
It actually might not have been the worst thing he heard that game, as Dončić told reporters the fan had been haranguing him going back to the first half. The "tired" line was just an odd straw to break the camel's back.
"He was cursing me the whole first half, too," Dončić said. "I never would eject a fan. They pay for tickets. But I had enough, it's a little bit of frustration.”
Playing without fellow star Kyrie Irving, Dončić posted 34 points on 11-of-24 shooting with nine assists, eight rebounds and five turnovers. His team appeared headed toward a victory in the second quarter to snap the Suns' six-game win streak, but Suns star Devin Booker caught fire in the third, outscoring the Mavericks 22-20 by himself.
The Mavericks were leading by a point at halftime. By the end of the third quarter, the Suns were leading by 25. It was a chippy game as well, with Grant Williams of the Mavericks and the Suns' Kevin Durant and Jusuf Nurkic all receiving technical fouls in the first quarter for a shoving match. Doncic also received a tech for repeatedly complaining to the officials at the end of the second quarter.
The loss pushes the Mavericks down to 24-20 on the season, good for eighth place in the Western Conference. They still have 2.5 games on the Los Angeles Lakers for a spot in the preferable play-in game, but are two games back from the sixth-place New Orleans Pelicans to qualify for the playoffs outright.