After only three seasons in the NBA, Luka Dončić has already established himself as one of the league’s premier superstars. He is not just a rising young talent, he has fully arrived. Luka is one of the game’s true offensive juggernauts, a player who occupies the modern intersection of elite lead scorer and transcendent facilitator. In 2021, the 22-year-old Slovenian native finished sixth in the NBA in points per game and fifth in assists; he was also fourth in triple-doubles and placed in the top 10 in an array of unconventional advanced metric categories. By any measurement, Luka was spectacular. 

Unsurprisingly, the Dallas Mavericks star has also piled up a collection of accolades during his first few years in the United States: Rookie of the Year, two-time All-Star and two-time first-team All-NBA. In late 2019, he joined the Jordan Brand family, and in 2021, he’s both become an Olympian and graced the cover of NBA 2K22. As he starts the new season, he’ll be wearing player exclusives of the new Air Jordan XXXVI, starting with the “Global Game” PE, which will have a limited release.

Luka’s AJ36 “Global Game” boldly displays his new logo across the top of the shoe, with iconography that includes autobiographical details and a nod to his cunning style of play. It integrates the twisting, infinite loop of a Möbius strip with Luka’s initials, his jersey number of 77 and arrows that represent his role as both a bucket-generator and a creator for his teammates. 

We caught up with Luka to discuss the Air Jordan XXXVI, his new Jordan Brand logo, repping Slovenia and more. 

Luka’s Air Jordan XXXVI “Global Game” PE

Let’s start with the new game shoe. What are the most important aspects of your performance shoes overall?

They need to be comfortable, protective and safe. And they have to look good. That’s important, too. It’s also good to have a light shoe, so you can move around the court faster.

What does it mean for you to wear the new Air Jordan XXXVI on the court and have your own special PEs?

I feel so light and quick in the Air Jordan XXXVI. It’s very special to me that I get to wear MJ’s signature shoe on the court and help carry the Brand’s legacy forward.

Luka’s new logo and the sketches that led to the final version. Jordan Brand designer Philippe Cuendet says: “We thought the AJ36 PE would be a great way to introduce Luka’s new logo. It was designed to reflect who he is as a player, teammate, human being and of course, master of deception. The Möbius strip is mind-bending — like Luka’s game.”

The Air Jordan XXXVI shows your new logo across the laces. What’s the story behind it?

I really enjoyed working with Jordan Brand on the design of my logo. I was looking for something bold and recognizable at first sight, something new that would look toward the future.

It’s inspired by the Möbius strip, which looks like an infinite loop from inside to outside. It’s a very deceptive shape, almost like two lightning bolts. It also looks like my initials, “LD,” and my number, 77. The negative space reveals an “S” for Slovenia.

At 12 years old, you had incredible passing, vision and spatial recognition. Do you think that’s something you were born with or something you were taught?

I think it’s both. You start to learn how to read the game. You read the other players, especially the defenders. What are they going to do? You watch scouting. 

What helped you decide to play for the Slovenian national and Olympic teams this summer?

I never had any doubt that I was going to play, unless we went to the NBA Finals. Playing for my country is very special. You do it out of honor. I will play every time I can.

How did it feel when you were asked to be on the cover of NBA 2K22?

It felt amazing. This is something that every kid dreams about. Everybody will be buying this video game, and it has me playing on the cover. It’s special for me because when the kids get it, they will see my face. I know a lot of kids are watching me play, so that’s important to me. 

Luka on the cover of NBA 2K22 Standard Edition, followed by artworks that led to the final version of artist Charly Palmer’s Cross Gen Digital Bundle cover featuring Luka. Palmer says: “I made this like I make all of my paintings, with bold colors and action using papers, stencils and patterns. I love that Luka approaches his game with fearlessness.”

Players in video games often have a signature move. Would you say that you have one?

Well, in real life, I would say the step-back.

You’ve been in the league for three years now. How do you think your game has changed over the years?

I have more responsibility now. Everyone expects more and more each season. People expect you to put up big numbers. As long as you win, you’re fine — no matter what you do, no matter how many points you score. There’s always room for improvement, in every area, so I work on everything. 

How important is it to enjoy the game while you’re out there?

You need to have fun with it. If you don’t have fun, it’s not really for you. Also, while it’s important to have skill, you should also be a good person both on the court and off the court. It’s important to see the bigger picture.

Luka during the 2021 NBA Playoffs

Luka’s Air Jordan XXXVI “Global Game” PE is available starting September 4 in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.