Former Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle pushes back against recent Luka Doncic hate: ‘If he’s not the best player in the world who is?’

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While Luka Doncic has gotten a lot of hate over the last week for his play in the NBA Finals, his former head coach still believes he is the best player on the planet.

It now seems like a long time ago when the basketball world was showering praise on Luka Doncic and his amazing play throughout the playoffs and in the Western Conference Finals, as he led the franchise to their third-ever trip to the NBA Finals.

Also Read: Dallas Mavericks coaches have ‘begged and pleaded’ with Luka Doncic to stop complaining to referees

However, some of the warts in his game have been exposed on the largest stage in the sport. Now, lowlight reels are making the rounds on social media of his horrid defensive play against the Boston Celtics. And fouling out with several minutes left in a winnable Game 3 has only intensified the scrutiny on the five-time All-Star.

Although much of the basketball world has been heaping hate on the 25-year-old this week, his former Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle had nothing but love and praise for his former pupil during an appearance on the “Green Light with Chris Long” podcast.

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“The thing that you learn about him very quickly, particularly when you have a chance to work with him, coach him, is that he is super big, super strong, unbelievably quick and extremely fast. Now it doesn’t look like he plays fast, but he can turn on the burners and he is an amazing athlete and he can play above the rim too. He doesn’t do it very much because he’s mastered the game on the ground and just by leaving the floor just slightly, because that’s how he controls the leverage of players that are bumping him and stuff like that.

“And that’s why he is able to finish and get and-ones so much. So I think right now you look at the run he’s been on during the playoffs leading to the Finals, what he’s done in the first two games of the finals. I mean if this guy isn’t the best player in the world, I don’t know who is.”

– Rick Carlisle

Also Read: NBA Finals Game 3 – Winners and losers from Celtics victory over the Mavericks

It is surprising praise considering a growing rift between Carlisle and Doncic is reportedly part of the reason why the coach departed the team in 2021 after 13 years and the franchise’s lone championship in 2011. Carlisle is currently the head coach of the Indiana Pacers and guided them to the Eastern Conference Finals this season.

While he may think Luka Doncic is the best player in the world today, NBA MVP voters felt it is still his pal Nikola Jokic and awarded him the honor for a third time this year.

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