2,000 Slovenians traveled to Miami to watch Goran Dragic vs. Luka Doncic
Goran Dragic and Luka Doncic, the two most notable Slovenian players in the NBA, dueled against one another for the first time in Miami last night. In the game, the Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks 105-99.
To greet them, however, were over 2,000 Slovenians — many of which had traveled thousands of miles to see their heroes, according to a Tim Cato of The Athletic.
Slovenia’s travel agencies had arranged trips for about 2,000 Slovenians en route to Miami, Florida; approximately 0.1 percent of the country’s total population, which is two million. They were loud enough during the game that it felt like 20,000. It didn’t matter that the plane tickets had cost, on average, €600, or $800. Slovenians, young and old, filled the stands with Dragic and Doncic jerseys from the Mavericks, Heat, Slovenian national team and Real Madrid, where Doncic starred last season. So many Slovenians connected through the airport in Milan, Italy, that the Italians started questioning what was happening. “The Italians got freaked out,” one Slovenian laughed.
Luka Doncic, the 20-year-old rookie who was drafted third overall by the Atlanta Hawks then traded for fifth overall pick Trae Young, had a strong game with 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. He did have 6 turnovers though and only shot 33 percent from the field (6 of 18).
Goran Dragic got the better of his younger cohort in this match-up, as he logged his first career triple-double with a stupendous stat line of 23 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as well as one block and one steal.
this many Slovenian fans are staying after the game, at least 20 minutes now, cheering and chanting for Luka and Goran Dragic pic.twitter.com/ck3ynqGf1Q
— Tim Cato (@tim_cato) March 29, 2019
Dragic and Doncic starred for their home country in the 2017 EuroBasket competition, in which the duo led Slovenia to its first-ever championship in EuroBasket by defeating Serbia in the final by a final score of 93 to 85.
They were two of the best players in the competition and both were named to the tournament’s All-Star Five. To his credit, Dragic was named tournament MVP.
Clearly, Dragic and Doncic mean a lot to their home country’s fans, and that such a large number of them traveled to see the Slovenian stars shows just how big the NBA is worldwide.