The Chicago Bulls got a win over the Miami Heat on November 18, and they did so on the strength of overcoming a 20-1 start. But the scene at the end of the game partly belied the emotions shown by most members of the Bulls following the 102-97 victory.
Zach LaVine had an interesting night. His teammates celebrated the victory on the court. LaVine walked off and away from a Bulls PR person, seemingly snatching his arm away at one point during the interaction, going straight to the locker room. He attempted to clear the air about the incident in the locker room after the game.
“It was just a miscommunication between us and our PR team,” a solemn LaVine said via Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune on November 18.
LaVine denied being upset over something.
“I’m not ticked at all,” he said. “We got a win. We play these guys in a couple days. I don’t want to just sit around and celebrate. I rather celebrate in the locker room.”
DeMar DeRozan Stole the Show vs. Heat
LaVine finished with 13 points, scoring 11 of those points in the second half. But he took just 10 attempts for the game, his fewest attempts of the season and the 19th time he has done so as a Bull, per Stathead. Their record in these games is notably now up to 11-8. Their overall record with LaVine is 151-212, per Statmuse.
He was efficient, going 5-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. He also stuffed the stat sheet with eight rebounds, six assists, three steals, and a block to just one turnover on the night and hit a three to bring the Bulls within three points for their final surge.
From that point on, the Bulls went on a 15-7 run to finish off the comeback.
However, LaVine did not even attempt a shot. He did record one assist, one rebound, and that block in that span, though.
Instead, the Bulls got 10 points from DeRozan (of his team-high 23 points) in that stretch as he went 3-for-3 from the floor and 3-for-4 at the free throw line. It was an exemplary display of one of the issues LaVine has had dating back to last season. LaVine and DeRozan’s personal relationship was and is strong. But the former questioned his role at times last season.
A late-season surge offered an opportunity for LaVine to reassert himself as he regained form following offseason knee surgery. But this season has looked very similar, particularly from beyond the arc where LaVine had struggled to start the year.
That has begun to turn around.
Media Question Zach LaVine’s Motives for PR Incident
“Sounds like Zach was supposed to do a walk-off interview with the flagship station and decided ain’t happening,” wrote Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times on X on November 17. “This is not usual behavior for LaVine, but maybe this is no longer the usual LaVine. Bulls PR is very good at their jobs and should have been treated better than this.”
“Bad look,” wrote Anthony Gill of NBC Sports Chicago in similar sentiments. “I’m not there so I’ll wait but BAD look”
“Wait wut,” posted Adam Abdalla of ESPN 1000.
Of course, not everyone was ready to pounce on LaVine.
“I get she’s got a tough job here,” Josh Eberley of HOOP Magazine posted. “But the fact she grabbed him is wild to me lol”
“That lady tried to Deebo her way to an interview lol,” posted @ItsPhilly_D. “LaVine been heated for well over a min though, ‘cause Bulls never wanted him until it was time to match Sacramento’s offer sheet”
There might not be a resolution to this until closer to the deadline. Multiple teams are interested in LaVine, per Charania. But many of the top players the Bulls could receive in return cannot yet be traded. This is just another layer to this saga that has also included a laundry list of teams LaVine would like to be traded to – including the Kings.