The Mavs’ loss to the Bulls that night — during which Doncic sat after playing the first quarter, a sheepish attempt to satisfy fans on “I Feel Slovenia” night at the American Airlines Center — officially eliminated Dallas from the play-in and broke a tie between the teams for 10th place in the lottery standings.

Two days later, Doncic sat out the regular-season finale and curtly responded to a question about the late-season tank. “I didn’t like that decision. That’s it,” he said.

“Not to rehash old stuff, but once we didn’t control our own destiny, it was like, all right, we can’t be foolish,” Mavs general manager Nico Harrison told ESPN. “The worst-case scenario was we were 11 versus being 10 — and you don’t make the play-in and don’t get your pick. Then I think I would probably look more foolish than doing it the opposite way.”

“The Dallas Mavericks’ decision to restrict key players from fully participating in an elimination game last Friday against Chicago undermined the integrity of our sport,” NBA executive vice president Joe Dumars said.

“The Mavericks’ actions failed our fans and our league.”

Fourteen months later, despite the controversy and risking the wrath from Doncic, the move looks to have been a stroke of genius.

That’s because the payoff from that first-round pick was prized rookie , a 7-foot-1 center who has made a massive impact for the Mavs. The second-team All-Rookie selection, who was actually selected at No. 12 after Harrison traded down, has been worth every bit of the $750,000 fine.

It’s all a distant memory now, and certainly not a source of any discontent for Doncic. He adores Lively. A smile lights up Doncic’s face any time he discusses the 20-year-old big man, the sort of lob threat and rim-protector that the perennial MVP candidate has long coveted.

Lively’s early contributions exceeded all expectations, playing a key role in the Mavs’ run to the Finals — and built excitement for the Mavs’ future.