Have you ever watched a Dallas Mavericks game, taken a look at Luka Doncic’s number 77 jersey, and wondered why he chose it? Was it superstition? Was he considered 77 as a lucky number? Does that number has a distinct meaning to him? Or maybe somebody on his team already had his favorite number used.
Many followers seem to be more curious about his jersey No. 77, searching for any implication it may have on the player. So why does the Mavericks’ star wear 77 on his jersey? Where did it come from?
Who is Luka Dončić?
Luka Dončić (Loo-Kuh Don-Chitch) is a professional basketball player for the Dallas Mavericks. He was born on February 28, 1999, in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He began his basketball career as a youth player for Olimpija at age eight before joining the academy of Real Madrid. In 2018, the 6’7, 230 lbs star declared for the NBA draft. The Atlanta Hawks selected him as their third overall pick before having his draft rights traded to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for the draft rights of Trae Young and a future first-round pick. During his first season in the league, the Slovenian native averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. He was also selected for the NBA All-Rookie First Team and won the Kia Rookie of the Year Award.
After an impressive rookie season, Dončić garnered All-NBA First Team and his first NBA All-Star Team selection in 2019-20. He improved in all major statistics, leading his team to the first playoff appearance since 2016. He was also the sixth player in the history of the NBA to be named All-NBA First Team at age 21 or younger.
Entering his fifth NBA season, the “Luka Magic” has averaged 26.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.0 assists in 264 regular-season games. Undoubtedly, he will become one of the faces of the league in the coming years.
Why Does Luka Wear Jersey 77?
A jersey is part of the basketball uniform, especially in a professional league. Every player wears one, and every basketball player has a unique number that helps teammates, opponents, game officials, and fans identify them.
There are many reasons that players choose their number. Some choose based on their childhood idols. Some choose dates like their birthdays. And some believe that a certain number is a lucky one.
Like every other player, Luka Doncic had favorite players growing up. One of them is a Greek professional basketball player Vassilis Spanoulis, who wore the number 7 throughout his career.
However, in the Slovenian national team, Vassilis’ number 7 jersey was already taken by a much older Kleman Prepelic. He instead shifted by adding an extra 7 to get to the 77.
The same thing happened in the NBA. The number 7 was already taken by Dwight Powell. Hence, he was forced again to wear number 77 up until this day.
How Many NBA Players Wear Number 77?
As rare as it is, only fifteen players in the history of the NBA have worn the number 77. Interestingly, most are actually from European countries, such as Slovenia. Over the last five seasons, only six NBA players have worn the number 77. Besides Luka, the only current NBA player who wore 77 this year was Ömer Yurtseven of the Miami Heat. The Turkish 7-footer wore number 7 in the NBA G-League last season. Like Doncic, Yurtseven had a teammate already rocking his number 7 jersey.
DeMarre Carroll wore 77 during the 2019-2020 season for the San Antonio Spurs. Vincent Poirier did the same for the Boston Celtics during that season. Ersan Ilyasova also rocked that number as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2020-2021 season.
Throughout just four seasons, there is no doubt that Luka Dončić is already the best-ever player to wear the No.77 jersey in the NBA. That should not be surprising, though.
Players often switch jersey numbers for numerous reasons. Two all-time greats, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, have changed their numbers at some point in their NBA tenure. Dončić would likely pick seven if changing his number in the future. However, it will be worth following if Luka keeps wearing 77 for his entire career.
It is also interesting to see if Dončić can start a trend of players wearing number 77. Many players choose to honor someone by imitating their number. Think about the multitude of players donning 23 because of Michael Jordan. Dončić will need to reach that Hall of Fame level, but it could happen.
7 Interesting Things to Know About Luka Dončić
1. Quite literally, he had started playing basketball when he was born
Dončić’s parents had stated that he first picked up a basketball as young as seven months. At eight, he began playing basketball for Olimpija, a Slovenian club team. He was 13 when he signed with Real Madrid and debuted in the Euroleague at 16.
2. He’s a huge fan of LeBron James.
Like many young stars coming into NBA in the past few years, Luka grew up idolizing the King. There was a report that he waited outside the Lakers’ locker room after his first game against LeBron to get a jersey signed by the King.
3. He is a quadrilingual
Luka Dončić has already traveled across the globe early in his career. Consequently, he learned several languages. He can speak English, Spanish, Serbian, and Slovenian. He picked up Spanish while playing for Real Madrid and already learned English before joining the Dallas Mavericks. He knows Serbian and Slovenian because those are his mother tongues.
4. His father is also a former professional basketball player.
Luka’s basketball roots can be traced to his father, Sasa Dončić, who also played professionally in the Euroleague basketball. Standing at 6’8, he shares an identical height with his son Luka. He played for seventeen years and is now a coach in Slovenia.
5. He was the youngest player ever to play for Real Madrid.
On April 30, 2015, Luka debuted with Real Madrid at 16 years and 61 days.
6. Luka is a keen fisherman.
Inside the Orlando bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort, NBA players spent their pastimes in various ways. While some were working out in their rooms and others were playing video games, the Slovenian star had a different downtime. When he isn’t playing basketball, Luka spends his time fishing. After one of the team’s practices during the 2020 Orlando bubble, the young star said fishing is a hobby he’s enjoyed for some time and brought his fishing gear to the bubble. (‘In the summer, I go fishing a lot of times in Croatia. Almost every day, I go out there and go fishing,’ Luka said.)
7. Luka is the youngest player to hit a game-winner in NBA playoff history.
The NBA returned to its schedule in the latter part of 2020, at the bubble in Orlando after the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. During Game 4 of the first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, Doncic hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer and finished the game with 43 points, 13 rebounds, and 17 assists. It was one of the best performances in NBA playoffs history.
Wrapping Things Up: Why Does Luka Wear 77?
Luka Dončić recently led the Dallas Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals. That was the team’s first Conference Finals appearance in eleven years. The Mavericks would lose out to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in 5 games.
During a press conference in July 2021, Dončić revealed his decision to wear the number 77 jersey.
At that time, he announced that he had worn the number to honor an idol of his, professional basketball player Vassilis Spyroulos, who had the No.7 jersey before retiring.
(‘Obviously, Felipe Reyes was my teammate, and he taught me well. He was the veteran over there, and he won almost everything.’ Luka said via Eurohoops.net. (‘He was a really big time for my career. Spanoulis was my idol since I was little. I was watching him. It was kind of sad seeing him retiring.’)
However, the No. 7 jersey that Vassilis used to wear during his career was already owned by Kleman Prepelic, a member of the Slovenian national team. Luka was so much younger then and would never have had the supremacy to take that jersey number away from Prepelic.
Instead, he added another seven to get to the 77.
(‘That’s why I wear No 7. I mean, I couldn’t wear No 7 cause it was already taken, so I took 77. He was really, really big time for me,’ Dončić added.)
Luka was able to wear No.7 when he played for Real Madrid in Spain. However, when he was drafted in 2018 and traded to the Mavericks, he ran into that same number 7 dilemma. Dwight Powell, who was in his fourth season, already had 7 for the Mavs. Dončić again had no choice but to use 77, which he still wears today.
After just four seasons, Doncic established himself as one of the best players in the league. When all is said and done, the Slovenian star is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and has his jersey retired by the Dallas Mavericks. One day while seeing his jersey hanging in the rafters, let’s not forget why did Luka wear 77.
If you’re interested in learning Luka Doncic’s story, check out this basketball biography book.
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