Zach LaVine said it all along for anyone willing to listen.
If he made the All-Star game, he’d be more inclined to participate in the dunk contest at All-Star weekend in Chicago. Even though, as a two-time champion, he had little left to prove.
Miss the All-Star game, and his focus would shift to the 3-point shootout. Since he planned to stay in Chicago for the festivities anyway.
LaVine reiterated all this following Tuesday’s practice at the Advocate Center, with the league poised to make the contest fields official either later in the day or Wednesday.
“I feel like I don’t got a lot more to prove with that,” LaVine said, citing the dunk contest. “The 3-point contest is something I’ve been wanting to do. I just think it will be fun. Obviously, I want to do something for Chicago during All-Star weekend. Get ready to shoot some more 3s.”
LaVine did offer an intriguing twist, again tied to his selection to the Feb. 16 All-Star game.
“If I had made it, I would’ve wanted to put on a big-time show for the crowd. I would’ve tried to do all three of them, the All-Star game, dunk contest and 3-point contest,” he said. “It didn’t happen. I have to re-evaluate where my legs are, where the team is, where my mind is and do the 3-point contest.”
LaVine and Aaron Gordon, who is participating, staged an epic dunk contest in 2016 at All-Star weekend in Toronto. Many fans wanted a rematch.
But LaVine is a two-time champion who won both events before he tore an ACL and, as he said, already had authored some of the most spectacular dunks in the contest’s history.
Instead, he’ll try to become the first player ever to win both. After all, LaVine is driven by challenges.
“Yeah, that was one of the things I thought of. I think it will be cool. And I think I have a shot to do it,” he said. “I’m going to get a couple racks probably. Practice my 3s. Obviously, if I get in a rhythm, I think I can win it. I think it will be fun. It will be different. It will be something I haven’t done before so I can go out and practice it. Hopefully, the rims give me a friendly bounce for the hometown guy.”
According to coach Jim Boylen, the racks are already handled.
“I talked to our equipment guys three weeks ago and had them order the same ball racks they use,” Boylen said.
And Boylen, who was with the Spurs when Marco Belinelli won the 3-point shootout at 2014 All-Star weekend, didn’t stop there with his offers to assist LaVine.
“Where do you put your money balls? What side do you grab the ball from? There’s a lot to it. What side of the floor do you grab the ball from?” Boylen said. “I was a part of that preparation for (Belinelli). Zach has his own feel. He’s already a terrific shooter. So we’ll just support him like we would anyone else.
“I’m excited for him. We’re happy for him and to have Zach do this with the way he’s shot the ball is exciting for him and for us. It would be kind of cool for a guy to win the dunk contest and the three-point shootout. That’s an exciting moment for him. He’s a competitive person and he’ll be ready.”
LaVine also would be ready if an injury replacement is needed for the Eastern Conference team and commissioner Adam Silver tabbed him. However, LaVine continued to show poise and maturity when asked about that possibility.
“You never hope for anybody to get injured man. I know personally I had an All-Star season. I understand the players that were picked were all deserving,” he said. “I don’t hang my hat or feel sorry or anything like that. I understand what type of season I’ve had and who I am as a player.”