It goes without saying at this point that Slovenian athlete Luka Dončić is one of the brightest stars in the NBA. The current Dallas Mavericks franchise leader in career triple-doubles, Luka has been shaking up the world of professional basketball quite a bit ever since he was drafted as a rookie into the NBA in the 2018–19 season.
There are a lot of already-legendary facets of Luka's career worth talking about, but many fans seem to fixate on his jersey No. 77, searching for any significance it may have to the player. So, why does Luka wear 77 on his jersey?
Why does Luka Dončić wear No. 77 on his jersey?
It may seem as though 77 was a randomly assigned numeral, but Luka has made it clear that his choice is an homage to Greek professional basketball player Vassilis Spanoulis.
Per EuroHoops, Luka revealed his decision to select the No. 77 during a press conference after a 2021 game against Angola.
"Obviously, Felipe Reyes was my teammate, and he taught me well. He was the veteran over there, and he won almost everything," the NBA star said. "He was a really big time for my career. [Vassilis] was my idol since I was little. I was watching him. It was kind of sad seeing him retiring."
Luka continued by saying, "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."
No. 7, which is what Vassilis donned, had already been claimed by Kleman Prepelic, an older Slovenian player who had seniority over Luka when the latter joined the national team. Nonetheless, Luka took it in stride and simply added another 7 to his number, making it 77.
Klemen even posted a message of support for his teammate on Twitter when he selected No. 77, sharing a flick of his new jersey with the encouraging statement, "bigtime!!"
The same number issue arose again when Luka was drafted by the Mavericks, as Dwight Powell already had No. 7, leaving the Slovenian star to select his now-signature No. 77 again.
Luka has made his affinity for Vassilis known for some time, even tweeting a thank you message to the athlete when the latter retired from basketball.
On another instance, Luka reaffirmed his love for the Greek athlete by saying, "Obviously, I looked at LeBron, but I mostly watched Spanoulis. I do not know if you guys know him, but he played in Olympiacos," per Basket News.
Likewise, Vassilis has expressed his admiration for Luka's skills and has said that he is a fan of the rising NBA star. "It's an honor hearing one of the greatest players in the world saying that he played basketball because of me. My kids are watching him, I am very happy that I inspired a phenomenal player like him," he said, per Basket News.
It's clear that the NBA star and his idol have quite an impressive level of respect for one another.