Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine checked off one of the two goals he strived to achieve when he first arrived in Chicago back in 2017: becoming an NBA All-Star.
LaVine was named a reserve for the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the first time in his career on Tuesday. LaVine earned the respect of his peers this season, receiving the third-most player votes of any guard in the Eastern Conference behind only Kyrie Irving and Bradley Beal.
But the 25-year-old guard’s second goal of making the playoffs has yet to be achieved. And he’s not satisfied until the Bulls reach the postseason for the first time since 2017.
“Even if I didn’t make the team, I think I was one of the better players in the Eastern Conference and I have my team fighting for the eighth spot to get into the playoffs, and that was my main goal,” LaVine said. “I’m definitely not content… I definitely want to keep pushing that envelope.”
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Thad Young Shares Common Goal With LaVine
In a surprise Zoom call with his family and current and former teammates, LaVine reflected upon his career so far.
“It goes back to me and my dad being outside in the rain, shooting 500 shots with plastic garden gloves on,” LaVine told reporters late on Tuesday night. “To me hurting my knee and fighting back from that. Being traded and now fighting to help my team get in the playoffs. It’s always a fight.”
LaVine’s seven-year career has been anything but a finely paved road. On top of his knee injury, he’s had six different head coaches and fleeting leadership with both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Bulls.
Teammate Thad Young, who LaVine has called his personal and team Most Valuable Player, understands the hurdles LaVine has cleared in his career. With LaVine gaining recognition for his vigilance as one of the league’s hardest-working players, Young has now called attention to their shared goal of making the postseason.
“When I signed here,” Young said, “it’s two things we’ve got to do: make it to the playoffs and get you to be an All-Star.
“We’re halfway there.”
LaVine Reaches Pay Dirt for His Efforts
As of Wednesday, the NBA still plans to have an All-Star game in Atlanta.
Lavine, who through 30 games is averaging career highs in points (28.6), rebounds (5.5) and assists (5.1), has the chance to showcase his talents among the league’s best — something he’s wanted for himself and his parents, too.
“Just the look on their faces, it’s been a long time coming,” LaVine said on the Zoom call with his family. “We put a lot of work in for this and my support system is always there for me and has my back, so just to see the looks on their faces and showing me that I made them proud is more than enough for me.”
LaVine made waves in 2015 and 2016 by winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in the infancy of his career. He declined to participate in the dunk contest, saying “I’m a little bit past that now, man. And we’ve got a lot of games left. I don’t want to lose my legs.”
He has expressed interest in showcasing his increasingly developed shooting ability as he’s knocking down a career-high 43.4% of his shots from beyond the arc this season.
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