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Luka Doncic jokes he was “speaking Slovenian” to Rudy Gobert, not cursing at him

NBA: Playoffs-Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves

May 24, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots against Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) in the fourth quarter during game two of the western conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Once the switch happened and Minnesota chose to leave Rudy Gobert on an island with Luka Doncic and the game on the line, we all knew what was going to happen. “When he got to dancing with Gobert, you could see that the stepback was coming,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said.

It wasn’t just the shot, it was the venom and trash talk from Doncic that helped make it a moment.

Doncic was asked about that postgame by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

MacMahon: “So [Gobert] can’t f’ing guard you?”
Doncic: “Who said that?”
MacMahon: “You said that.”
I didn’t say that. I was speaking Slovenian,” then Doncic broke into a huge grin because we all knew.

Plenty of people — led by the petty Draymond Green on TNT — love to pile on Gobert whenever they get the chance, and this was a chance. It’s wrong-headed. First off, Minnesota’s coaching staff oddly chose to leave Gobert on an island with one of the greatest clutch scorers in the game rather than force the ball out of his hands with a double and dare anyone else to beat them. Gobert did enough to take away Doncic’s preferred stepback to the left, but in the past year or so Doncic has improved his step back to the right and broke it out here. Maybe Gobert could have been up on him more, but we are looking for reasons to shade Gobert when the fact is Doncic hit a brilliant and difficult shot.

Beyond that, Minnesota is winning the Gobert minutes this series — they are +11 with him on the court through two games and were +1 with him in Game 2. They need his rim protection.

None of that matters. The distaste for Gobert in parts of the NBA fandom is strong — and Doncic clearly shares in that. No matter what language he’s speaking.