Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Dončić wore a player-exclusive pair of his Jordan Luka 1 shoes featuring a Bison logo and Howard University-themed colors.
Dončić sported these in the Mavericks’ 115-101 win over the Utah Jazz, shouting out the Howard basketball teams on social media.
Dončić has been one of the most recognizable stars in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Originally from Ljubljana, Slovenia, he played basketball for the Real Madrid Baloncesto from 2015-2018. Dončić entered the NBA in 2018, winning the Rookie of the Year Award for his impressive debut season. Since then, he has garnered three All-Star selections and has consistently been a candidate for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. At age 23, Dončić has already set the Mavericks’ franchise record for triple-doubles, which are games where a player records at least 10 rebounds, points, and assists.
To see an athlete of this caliber wearing these shoes was a special feeling for those within the basketball program at Howard University. Daniel Marks, the chief program strategist for the Howard men’s basketball team, spoke about seeing Dončić displaying these sneakers on a national platform.
“I think any time you can associate Howard with greatness, it’s a win for the University and the program,” Marks said. “There have been so many great people to come from Howard University, but only one NBA player from Howard: Larry Spriggs of the Los Angeles Lakers. So any time we can associate our program with the NBA, I think it’s a great thing. Luka is an MVP candidate this season and led his team to the Western Conference finals last year. With the brand he has, choosing to associate with Howard is awesome. What he’s doing in general for all the universities wearing the Luka 1s is tremendous because he’s giving the college programs a platform. Not every NBA player is willing to do that, especially one of his caliber.”
The Howard men’s basketball program has made significant strides in the past year. Last year, the team had its first winning record since the 2001-02 season. Guard Kyle Foster, the team’s standout in 2021, took his talents to the NBA Summer League with the Detroit Pistons. Foster and former Bison forward Randall Brumant participated in the HBCU All-Star Game, an event recognizing the top basketball players from historically Black colleges and universities.
Marks says seeing a prominent athlete recognizing Howard shows the progress made within the basketball program.
“Howard is a tremendous brand that speaks excellence,” Marks continued. “So to associate it with other nationally-known brands, it’s really an exciting time for us. Last year, the team had their first winning season in 20 years with coach [Kenneth] Blakeney. Then to have Kyle Foster play in the Summer League and two players All-Conference, there’s a lot of positive stuff happening in the program. Because we haven’t had a historical track record of success, not a lot of people are probably familiar with Howard men’s basketball. So for an MVP candidate like Luka to wear the shoes and post about it, it’s huge for our platform. It may be an introduction for people who want to learn about what we’re building here.”
The Bison will have their first regular-season game at Kentucky on Nov. 7.
Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee