Luka Doncic was classic Luka Doncic in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, for better or worse.

While the Dallas Mavericks and Slovenian superstar led the tournament in scoring by racking up 216 points across eight games for 27.0 points per game, he had plenty of his moments of displeasure in the officiating. Interestingly enough, it paralleled the reputation he has involuntarily built in the NBA.

This past Wednesday’s marquee quarterfinals match-up against Canada saw Doncic and Slovenia get challenged mightily, so much so that the Mavs star was visibly frustrated all game – although one might argue that he’s always in that type of a mood every game.

In any case, it hit boiling point as it led to a second technical foul for Doncic, who was subsequently ejected. He was tossed at the 6:37 mark of the game and Slovenia only down by a manageable 15 points. Bigger leads have been blown before, with less time.

The Doncic-less quad showed a ton of fight and even brought the lead down to nine with under four minutes remaining, but the NBA talent-laden Canada was just too much. Slovenia went on to lose, 100-89, to get booted out of the ‘Cup and left playing classification games.

Basketball is an emotional sport, especially when competition is as prestigious as the World Cup, but all things considered, you can’t help but wonder how the game would’ve turned out had Doncic kept his cool. The four-time NBA All-Star has a knack for clutch situations, and we could’ve easily seen him ride his teammates’ late-game run into a memorable comeback.

Instead, the basketball world would continue discussing Doncic being too accustomed into complaining for calls, which he weirdly acknowledged in the post-game presser:

“The referees told to one of the guys: ‘We’re not gonna call a foul on [Dillon Brooks] because he’s coming at us … I know I complain a lot, but I don’t think it’s fair.”

On one breath, he’s being self-aware, but on another, he’s still pointing fingers on the referees. It brought him back to a negative light and virtually cancelled his other point.

Also, Dillon Brooks was ejected due to a disqualifying foul after taunting Klemen Prepelic, literally 30 seconds before Doncic got thrown out.

Don’t forget that prior to that, he did the money sign too, which seems to be a favourite of his as he has done it before in the NBA – one vs. the Warriors, one vs. the Suns.

To be fair, though, Doncic is in a tough and stressful role as he is basically a one-man army for Slovenia, getting pitted against teams with multiple established NBA players. Then again, as ‘The Man,’ it’s his job to make it work, and regardless if it’s the team’s faulty system or not, he’s simply taking far too many shots every game. IT shows a shortage of trust in his teammates.

In their eight total contests, Luka put up a team-high 17.9 shots per game with an uninspiring 42.7% shooting clip. Way behind at second is the aforementioned Prepelic and Mike Tobey, who only averaged 7.9 and 8.0 shots, respectively – the latter made an impressive 62.1%, so it’s anyone’s guess why he took 10 less shots per contest than Luka.

Hopefully, this rough shortcoming and all their previous failures in the international stage can prove to be a valuable teacher in the future. It’s good that they won the final classification game to end things on a high note and earn a ticket to the 2024 Olympic qualifiers. That said, Doncic does have to learn to become more mature leader. It will come a long way because he has all the tools to make others better, and Slovenia has a collection of good talent.