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.”