LaVine Full Of Emotion As His NBA Career Begins

Wolves first round pick Zach LaVine addresses the media at the NBA Draft after being selected by Minnesota 13th overall on Thursday night.
Mike Stobe/NBAE/Getty Images
by Mark Remme
Web Editor
@markremme

Zach LaVine spoke with emotion in his voice when he called into the local Twin Cities media about an hour and a half after being selected 13th overall by the Timberwolves on Thursday night. His words, genuine and sincere, helped put perspective into what he was thinking and feeling when he heard his name called as a first rounder—the first of three UCLA wing prospects on the board.

“I’ve waited for this my whole life for this moment,” LaVine said. “It was just a rush of emotion that came through me, and I’m on Cloud 9 still man. I’m ready, I put my head down and prayed to God, thank God. I just hugged my mom, and I couldn’t believe this is happening. You think about this since you’re a little kid, and you just can’t believe it’s actually happening. I’m just ready to get to Minnesota and do my best.”

LaVine spoke with Timberwolves in Chicago at the NBA Draft Combine in May, and he was in town this month doing a workout for coach Flip Saunders and the staff. He was highly ranked by Minnesota as a possible pick at No. 13 thanks to his athleticism, shooting potential and upside.

He has a chance to turn that potential into reality at the NBA level. Those days he spent working on his game and having his father ask him questions during car rides as a kid—helping him prepare for the NBA Draft process down the road—all culminated into one memorable moment on Thursday night.

Now, the Wolves have a player that has the athleticism, work ethic and drive to make a difference on an NBA squad.

It starts with fitting into the Wolves’ back court, where he sees definite possibilities to mix and match with what the Wolves already have on the roster.

“You know, it’s going to be a privilege to be back there,” LaVine said. “Ricky Rubio at the point right now, I can see me running lanes and hopefully catching some alley-oops on the break, spreading the floor. Maybe playing some back-up point if that’s what coach Saunders needs me to do. I’m just going to go in there and work my butt off to try to help you guys win.”

LaVine was on camera at the Draft showing ambiguous emotions when he heard his name called, and he said overwhelmingly during his post-first round conference call that it was a rush of emotion all at once. That dream of hearing his name on Draft night finally came to reality.

“I’m completely ecstatic,” LaVine said. “I couldn’t be more happy. I’m a very emotional person, so I might’ve uttered something completely wrong, but I put my head down, thanked God, kissed my mom, kissed my dad, couldn’t’ believe this was happing to me right now. I’m going into Minnesota full-fledged and ready to become a Timberwolf.”

Saunders said LaVine impressed him with the way he conducted himself on and off the court, and he does seem to have a tireless work ethic to succeed. At the Combine, LaVine was complimented on his shooting during the Thursday workout but countered with how he felt like he could’ve been better and how he’s never satisfied. That’s the type of mentality the Wolves are looking for—continuous growth and improvement.

“I’m definitely going to get a lot stronger,” LaVine said. “I’m going to get in the weight room and do everything I need to do to help my body out. But right now I pride myself on being one of the hardest workers, and I’m going to continue doing that.”