He is a natural-born heir to Lionel Messi, beaming Usain Bolt blazes of sunshine even as he prowls his factory floor like a peak-era Tiger poised to devour the fairways.
As another gust of history brushed against Luka Doncic in the early hours of Monday morning, there seemed only one legitimate question to offer to the planet.
Can there be a more electrifying, ballsy, cerebral, joyous, box-office alchemist in world sport than the 21-year-old Slovenian triumph of audacity, finesse and competitive will?
As this human adrenaline shot seized the title deeds to the NBA’s post-season, it felt just as riveting as The Tiger’s storming of Augusta at an identical age back in 1997.
And, it suddenly felt that any search for a heavenly successor to Messi as the Caesar of team games may have to be extended beyond the parameters of Association Football.
His name is Luka and he lives on the penthouse floor – a matinee idol’s 24-carat smile carved into his giddy features.
History often has a harsh way with loose talk, but as Doncic shredded maybe the strongest roster in American sport to pieces, it felt like that mythic title of greatest athlete on the planet was the smiling assassin’s for the taking.
"He’s from another planet," was the breathless verdict of Dallas Mavericks coach, Rick Carlisle, after Luka strapped an entire city to his shoulders, delivering one of the more mesmerising individual displays American sport has known.
Doncic, in the Game Four victory of what is shaping into an epic best of seven series with the LA Clippers, became the first player in post-season history to score at least 43 points, pull down at least 17 rebounds and dish at least 13 assists.
At 21, in just his second season in the league, Luka planted his flag atop a statistical Everest even the greatest of the greats, Jordan, LeBron, Kobe, or the man with whom he is increasingly compared, Larry Bird, never conquered.
That he soared while dancing on a badly sprained ankle, that he capped his masterclass with a beautiful, buzzer-beating flourish of witchcraft (a sensational game-clinching three-pointer) only further adds to the legend of the hour, one that gripped and united a bruised, divided America.
Of course, Doncic is only in the foothills of the relentlessly high-end portfolio compiled by a Messi, Woods or Jordan.
Tiger has 15 majors; Messi a six-pack of Ballon d’Ors; MJ, a half-dozen NBA titles to go with a legacy of transforming the hardwood into the setting for the most sustained and breathtaking exhibition of balletic grace the planet has ever known.
But the early evidence is transfixing.
Luka was 2019 Rookie of the Year; in this, his second season, his eye-watering regular season numbers – averaging 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game – are superior to Jordan, Lebron or Bird in their second seasons.
If greatness is calibrated by an ability to abduct the biggest stage, to conjure otherworldly deeds at the most vital moments, Doncic is presenting ever more compelling evidence that the sporting world is his to inherit.
Better still, his default setting is the kind of magnetic, charismatic Bolt-like joy that speaks of a bone-deep love for the arena in which he makes his magic. He presents a striking contrast with the entitled scowl that is, increasingly, the professional athlete’s sour-hued flag of choice.
Luka has been playing professional hoops since he became Real Madrid’s youngest ever senior debutant aged 16.
At 21 he has a veteran baller's poise, unshakeable joie de vivre and, a sense of destiny that announces him among that rare, hypnotic breed from whom you cannot avert your eyes.
In a sport that almost exclusively bows to explosive athleticism, he is an outlier.
His calling cards are, instead, the kind of poise and balance that permit him to dance untouched through rush-hour traffic and that are highly uncommon among a man who rises all of 6’7” above sea level in his stocking feet.
His peripheral vision is miraculous; he is as all-seeing as if steered by a satellite perched high in space and trained on the 94x50 foot rectangle of parquet that is his theatre of expression.
In the most claustrophobic spaces, he picks out team-mates with an array of passes and no-look feeds that are reminiscent of Andrea Pirlo or Tom Brady.
Some of his finishing is inexplicable, driving into the crowded lane beneath the basket, bouncing off much bigger men, yet hovering on cushions of air and finding a way to contort and break free, sending the ball on a gorgeous arc to its destination.
Doncic, like Roger Federer or George Best or Ronnie O’Sullivan or Maurice Fitzgerald or Joe Canning, is among that rare breed who elevate sport to the realms of high art.
In Game Four, with a threadbare Dallas down their injured second superstar – the 7’3” Latvian Kristaps Porzingis – and apparently over-matched against a Clippers side propelled by the twin-engine thrust of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George – he came to resemble Diego Maradona at the 1986 World Cup.
Carrying a team on his back, facing down hugely unpromising odds, laughing at constant double-teams and rough house treatment, he was brave and unbreakable, a towering and thrilling man of predestination.
A force of nature.
And then, with a defender’s hand in his face, came that winning 28-footer that sent ESPN’s Sports Centre – the broadcast bible of American life – into convulsions.
“Look, we know that kid has got a flair for the dramatic. He’s a performer as well as a great player. He’s a guy that lives for these moments. Is completely fearless,” marvelled coach Carlisle.
The Mavs remain outsiders to take down the stacked Clippers in this Round of 16 duel (Game 5 takes place at 2.0am Irish time on Wednesday morning) and it would be a story to rival Leicester City’s Premier League win if they surged all the way to an NBA title.
But, as one awed American correspondent wrote yesterday: "Doncic is a one-man pressure cooker, a player who administers the beating as well as take one. His mere presence makes you feel like you have a chance to win a game, a series, a championship."
Genius is undaunted by the most forbidding odds.
Watching Doncic rewrite the script is to remember a tribute penned to a young, invincible Woods.
It recalled: “The surges of brilliance, the recurring sense that he could find a way to win and play some of the most improbable shots ever seen, in a way beyond the power of any of his rivals.”
Doncic wore sneakers rather than cleats, deployed a much larger sphere, one of an off-orange rather than dimpled white, as his weapon of choice.
But, as Ireland slept on Monday, he was as dazzling and certain as The Tiger at 21 bending the world to his will.
Whipping his chosen code into submission, he looked for all the world like a Caesar-in-waiting, a sun king announcing his time to illuminate the sporting world in cosmic light had arrived.