Bulls’ Zach LaVine Sends Surprising Message on His Superstar Status

Zach LaVine and LeBron James during the 2022 All-Star Game.

Getty Zach LaVine guards LeBron James during the 2022 All-Star Game.

The Chicago Bulls acquired Zach LaVine from the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night in 2017 in the blockbuster Jimmy Butler trade. Since then, LaVine has made two All-Star teams and established himself as one of the best scorers in the NBA.

A two-time Slam Dunk champion, LaVine is averaging 24.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists since arriving in the Windy City. He’s already third in Chicago franchise history in 3-point field goals and second in points per game.

Michael Jordan is the best shooting guard in Bulls history, as he owns 27 franchise records. If LaVine spends the rest of his career in Chicago, he could go down as the second-best shooting guard.

During an interview with Heavy on Super Bowl Sunday, LaVine talked about Jordan and what it would mean to be the second-greatest shooting guard to ever play for the Bulls.

“Michael Jordan growing up was everything to me,” LaVine said. “He’s part of the reason I started playing basketball. He was everything. To even be on the Bulls, I remember getting traded here, I always just wanted to help them get back to where they were. All they knew was winning and they deserve that.

“For me personally, I’ve never really looked into all those stats. When you’re with a team for a good amount of time, you’re gonna accumulate those things and I hold myself to a high standard to be a really good player in this league, so I appreciate it.”

The Bulls clearly won the LaVine-Butler trade since Butler only played 69 games with the Timberwolves before getting traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. LaVine is one of the most dynamic players in the NBA and the Bulls have built something special with him and DeMar DeRozan leading the way.

Interestingly, though, LaVine — who is very confident in his skills — doesn’t think he’s a superstar yet.

LaVine: ‘I Would Never Say That I’m in That Realm’

During an interview with Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report in Cleveland during All-Star weekend, LaVine — who is averaging 24.5 points this season — said he can’t call himself a superstar.

However, the UCLA product knows he’s one of the “top” players in the league.

“I mean, I would never say that I’m in that (superstar) realm,” LaVine said. “I would just say that I’ve always viewed myself as a top-tier player. I put the work in on the court. I’ve showed it over the last three, four years. And I just attribute that to my hard work. If you expect yourself to be here, it’s something that you have to go out there and show each and every day. I feel like I’ve done that. I’ve thought I could be one of the players in the game since I got into the league.”

LaVine has been through a lot since entering the NBA in 2014, which is why he’s so humble. He tore his left ACL during the 2016-17 season, was traded in the summer of 2017, had to sign an offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings in the offseason of 2018 as a restricted free agent to get the Bulls to pay him and dealt with the death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, one of his childhood idols.

All of the battles LaVine has gone through at a young age have made him stronger, both mentally and physically. So while he may not be a superstar like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard — guys who have won regular-season awards and championships — LaVine is one of the most talented scorers in the NBA and he’s ready to shine on the biggest stage for the first time in his career.

LaVine on Playoffs: ‘I’m Really Excited to Be on That Stage’

LaVine will play in the NBA playoffs for the first time in his career this campaign and the high-flier can’t wait to compete for a championship.

“You know, I’m really excited,” LaVine told Fischer. “I’m really excited to be on that stage because I haven’t been there yet. I want to go to the playoffs and play on the big stage.”

If LaVine leads the Bulls to the championship, he’ll be a superstar. Until then, calling the 26-year-old an “All-Star” seems fair.

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