Bulls

Zach LaVine comes up short in 3-point contest, 'definitely' wants rematch

Zach LaVine comes up short in 3-point contest, 'definitely' wants rematch

Zach LaVine is a competitor who wanted to make history.

That’s why well after he was eliminated in the first round of Saturday night’s 3-point contest---heck, well after he had broken down his performance with reporters---he couldn’t let go.

“Damn, man,” LaVine said, grabbing an acquaintance’s shirt. “I wanted to win so badly.”

In his first appearance in the contest, the two-time slam dunk champion hoped to become the first player to win both events. Instead, despite a respectable 23, LaVine watched Buddy Hield defeat Devin Booker in the final on Hield’s final shot.

LaVine sank all five shots on both his first and last racks of basketballs. But in a break from the norm, he placed all five of his money balls---worth two points instead of one---at the top of the arc. LaVine sank just two of five shots.

“I’m pissed. I’m mad. You know I want to put a show on. I got off to a hot start. I missed the money balls. I ended hot as well. But it just wasn’t enough,” said LaVine, who needed to beat Davis Bertrans’ 26 to advance. “They did their thing. They knocked down their money balls.”

LaVine, who said he “definitely” wants to participate in the contest again, admitted he should’ve altered his strategy. He’s shooting 51.3 percent on corner 3-pointers this season.

“If I would’ve changed it around, I would’ve put the money balls in the corner, last,” LaVine said. “My thinking was I’ll start off hot and that’s how I was practicing. The middle shots can put you over the top. You can mess around and be at 20 points at the middle. Then you can coast all the way through. It’s just different strategy. At the end of the day, you just gotta make them.”

When Booker and Hield posted scores of 27 in the opening round, LaVine said he told Booker, ‘I’m going for 30.’ Instead, he fell short despite a warm reception upon his introduction.

“It was good. It was love. I appreciate Chicago. I love them. They know how I feel about the city. I wanted to bring that trophy home. I’m just as mad as they are. Trust me,” LaVine said. “This is a great event as well. You get hyped. Dudes get on a roll and you get the crowd behind you. It’s a little bit different than the dunk contest. There are more competitors on the floor. There are more moving parts in the 3-point contest than the dunk contest. But it’s the bright lights still. You gotta put on a show.

“I had to do something here. I really wanted to be in the (Sunday All-Star) game. That didn’t work out. I had to do something for Chicago. And I’m glad I did.”

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan highlight decorated Hall of Fame class

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan highlight decorated Hall of Fame class

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced its official Class of 2020 on Saturday. And my word is it stacked:

Headlined by Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and the late Kobe Bryant, this is one of the most star-studded classes in history. Also set to be honored: 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings, three-time NCAA-champion coach Kim Mulkey, five-time Division II National Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens, four-time National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton, two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich and longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann.

There are some Chicago ties in here, too. Garnett famously spent a year of his high school career at Farragut Career Academy on the West Side of Chicago, receiving McDonald's All-American and national player of the year honors in 1995. Catchings won an IHSA Division AA state title as a freshman and Ms. Illinois Basketball as a sophomore in a stint at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire before embarking on her illustrious college and WNBA career.

And Tomjanovich, of course, coached the Houston Rockets teams that won the only two non-Bulls titles from 1991-1998 — teams that current Bulls coach Jim Boylen served as an assitant with

As of this writing, the Class of 2020 is set to be officially enshrined in Springfield, Mass., on Aug. 29.

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Brian Windhorst: 'Significant amount of pessimism' NBA season will resume

Brian Windhorst: 'Significant amount of pessimism' NBA season will resume

An abbreviated playoff schedule was floated. 'Bubble cities' were weighed. A push-back to Christmas Day for the 2020-21 NBA season was considered

By all accounts, the NBA has explored every avenue to salvage a resolution to its 2019-20 season, which was suspended on March 11 after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. But the hurdles have always been immense.

Now, it seems a prevailing sentiment that the season might be lost is beginning to set in.

From Brian Windhorst of ESPN in an appearance on SportsCenter:

"It's been a bad week. I think there was optimism about progress a week ago, and some things that have happened this week have turned it south about what could happen. A big factor was what happened in China where they halted the return of their league, and one of the big reasons is because they really believed if they just tested the player's temperature all the time then it would work, and the Chinese are finding that asymptomatic carriers are causing maybe a second wave in that country. And they have just slammed the brakes on sports.

The talks between the player's union and the league this week — I've talked to both sides of this issue — and it's clear that the NBA is angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down. They don't have to do that yet, and the way they're negotiating they're leaving themselves an option either way. But they are not having talks about how to restart the league. They are having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down, and I think there is a significant amount of pessimism right now."

As Windhorst notes, the biggest fulcrum point between the league-wide optimism to "angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down" are recent negative developments in the Chinese Basketball Association. The CBA initially suspended play on Jan. 24, and has since seen a targeted return date of April 15 pushed back into May by government order

Elsewhere in Asia, the Korean Basketball League of South Korea has already cancelled its season. Japan's B League attempted to resume after suspending play on Feb. 29 to disastrous results. The logsitics of quarantining, administering testing and keeping controlled any environment for basketball to be safely played in are immense — even for countries with a head start on where the United States currently is in the response process.

And from the NBA's perspective, given that the scale of the novel coronavirus' impact in the United States still not fully comprehensible, there comes a point where the focus must shift towards not throwing two seasons into disarray.

Windhorst addressed that point on SportsCenter, as well, but said nothing is set in stone yet:

"They (the NBA) do have runway here, I do think that they could, if they had to, go into August or September to finish this season. But I'm not sure they feel confident about that right now," Windhorst continued. "A big factor is testing. We just don't have the testing. At some point, not only does it have to be a test that's quick and can evaluate whether a player is healthy enough to enter a game, you have to know whether you have the tests available, so that you're not taking them away from people who need them.

"Right now, that's not here. If in six or eight weeks it is here, we can have a different conversation, but right now the league is preparing for that answer to be no."

That last point is a salient one. As long as this pandemic remains a global crisis, sports are simply not the top priority. Frankly, they shouldn't be.

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