Zach LaVine could make history this All-Star weekend in Chicago

"I feel I have a chance to go out and win it; it’s big and I take it seriously." - Zach LaVine
by Sam Smith
Remind Me Later

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With a win, tonight during All-Star Saturday night, Zach LaVine would become the only player in NBA history to win both the Slam Dunk contest and Three-Point contest.

Zach LaVine is ready to make All-Star history Saturday night.

LaVine, who is a two-time slam dunk champion from the All-Star weekend contests, seeks to be the first to hold the trophies from both contests in a display of rare star versatility.

"Not even a lot of guys have competed in both contests," LaVine pointed out Saturday morning at the All-Star media session in Wintrust Arena. "I feel I have a chance to go out and win it; it's big and I take it seriously. When I've been practicing I've been going through the racks. I've been timing it with the minutes. I've been getting through it pretty easily. I don't think leg strength is anything that has ever bugged me being a big-time dunker. I've got a pretty easy shot as well. I can get a rhythm down.

Zach LaVine

"I've shot a lot a shots (to practice)," LaVine added. "It's something I haven't done before. I don't like going into things not being prepared. I've shot probably like 350 shots (each day). I'm going to do another round (this afternoon)."

Davis Bertans, Washington; Devin Booker, Phoenix; Devonte' Graham, Charlotte; Joe Harris, Brooklyn; Buddy Hield, Sacramento; Duncan Robinson, Miami and Trae Young, Atlanta also are in the contest that features an extra, longer shot this season in addition to the usual ball racks.

But oh what a night it might have been if LaVine were selected for the Sunday All-Star game. LaVine was considering entering both contests if he were a part of the Eastern All-Star team, which many believed he should have been. Fans on the internet got a glimpse of what might have been when a friend posted a video of a casual LaVine dunk practice session from this week.

So just experimenting LaVine tried a 360-degree spin and dunk….from the free-throw line. He barely missed.

"I'm focused on the three-point contest. It's something different that I haven't done before. You know me: If I get a rhythm, I can get real hot."

Zach LaVine

"It wasn't even supposed to go viral, man," LaVine said with a laugh. "I got mad at my friend. He was with me recording. I was just messing around, trying to see what I still had and what I could do. It was just in good fun. I was practicing some things after I got done shooting. I did a couple (of those) years ago. It's on YouTube somewhere. Andrew Wiggins recorded it when I was in Minnesota. You'll actually see Kris Dunn in the video. I made one. I just wanted to see if I still had it. I got pretty close on my first attempt. I could probably make it still.

"If I wanted to enter, I would've entered," LaVine said about the dunk. "I think my dunking is something that carries with me everywhere. But I don't have a lot more to prove in that area. I've won it a couple of times. If I would've made the game, I feel like I would've tried a lot more things in All-Star weekend. I'm focused on the three-point contest. It's something different that I haven't done before. You know me: If I get a rhythm, I can get real hot."

Of course, it would be an unnecessary risk to try the dunk again considering LaVine's knee surgery two years ago. Plus, the stars of the game privately dismiss the dunk contest these days as something for lesser and up-and-coming players to make a name for themselves. LaVine is passed that. He just needs to help his team catch up now.

Zach LaVine

"Chicago is a great place," LaVine said. "We have to build back up what we are representing and where we are going in the future. We have to do a better job of putting more Ws in the win column.

"For me personally, just to keep the foot on the gas pedal," LaVine said. "You never know what's going to happen. I'm always somebody who looks at the glass half full. We're not out of the playoffs yet. As a team, we've got to come back focused. We can't be on vacation mode yet. Sometimes you come out the break, teams go up or down. Hopefully, we'll be one of the teams that go up. If you're not confident in yourself or your team, you already lost the battle. Whenever I play, regardless of what the result is, I think we're going to win. If you don't have that approach as a competitor, what are you playing for? Obviously, I'm going out there to win trying to help my team win and I think we have a chance.

"I appreciate the fans who have stayed loyal," said LaVine. "Me personally, I appreciate all the fans who come out and supported me and come each and every game. I feel like I'm somebody they can trust and somebody who puts the work in. I don't care if we're down 100 or up 100. You're going to get the same type of reaction from me, the same determination to try to win. We're trying to win. You know me personally. I want to do nothing but win. I just want to say thank you to them."

Zach LaVine and Kobe Bryant

It's the Mamba mentality that LaVine embraced growing up on the West Coast a Kobe Bryant fan. There's considerable emotion this All-Star weekend with tributes to Bryant following his death in the helicopter crash. "I was the biggest Kobe fan in the world," said LaVine. "That was my guy growing up; that was my idol. There were a lot of All-Star moments. One of my favorites was when they inbounded the ball and he split the double team and threw between his legs and did that a fadeaway. He had so many different ones; he's pretty much an All-Star legend."

Perhaps LaVine begins to add his name Saturday night in Chicago.

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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