Chicago Bulls' LaVine had triple crown in mind for All-Star Weekend
Zach LaVine had a goal of being the perfect All-Star Game host and doing both the 3-point and dunk contests, then playing in the game Sunday, Feb. 16, at the United Center.
Since he wasn't selected as an NBA all-star, LaVine will dial it down and just do the 3-point contest on All-Star Saturday Night. News of his participation broke Monday.
"If I had made it, I would've wanted to put on a big-time show for the crowd," LaVine said Tuesday at the Advocate Center. "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."
Along with LaVine, players in the 3-point contest will be Portland's Damian Lillard, Atlanta's Trae Young, Sacramento's Buddy Hield, Charlotte's Devonte Graham, Miami's Duncan Robinson, Washington's Davis Bertans and defending champ Joe Harris from Brooklyn.
LaVine won the dunk contest in each of his first two years in the NBA, so he felt there wasn't much to gain by doing it again. This year's dunk contest will feature Orlando's Aaron Gordon, the Lakers' Dwight Howard, Miami's Derrick Jones Jr. and Milwaukee's Pat Connaughton.
Former Bulls MVP Derrick Rose and Chicago native Patrick Beverley from the Clippers will participate in the skills challenge. They will be joined by Miami's Bam Adebayo, Brooklyn's Spencer Dinwiddie, Milwaukee's Khris Middleton, Indiana's Domantas Sabonis, Toronto's Pascal Siakam and Boston's Jayson Tatum.
"The 3-point contest is something I've been wanting to do," LaVine said. "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 is shooting 37.6 percent from 3-point range this season, while averaging a career-best 24.9 points. He ranks eighth in the league in total 3-pointers made with 154, and he knocked down 13 in a game at Charlotte on Nov. 23 -- 1 short of Klay Thompson's NBA record.
Bulls coach Jim Boylen suggested he could help turn LaVine into a 3-point champ. Boylen was an assistant coach with the Spurs in 2014 when former Bulls guard Marco Belinelli won the 3-point contest.
"I can't give away my secrets," Boylen said. "I talked to our equipment guys three weeks ago and had them order the same ball racks they use. Stuff like that. Same ball racks. Where do you put your money balls? What side do you grab the ball from? There's a lot to it.
"I think I was with Belinelli when he won it. So I was a part of that preparation for him. Zach has his own feel. He's already a terrific shooter. So we'll just support him like we would anyone else."
Some might ask why Boylen ordered special 3-point ball racks three weeks ago if the news just became official. Well, LaVine has been hinting to reporters about his preference for the 3-point contest, so this probably has been in the works for a while.
"Obviously, if I get in a rhythm, I think I can win it," LaVine said. "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."
It's still possible LaVine could be added to the all-star roster as an injury replacement, but there's no guarantee he'd be the next guy added in the East. He's likely in the mix with guys such as Washington's Bradley Beal, Brooklyn's Dinwiddie and Detroit's Andre Drummond.
"You never hope for anybody to get injured, man." LaVine said. "I know personally I had an all-star season. I understand the players that were picked were all deserving. You worry about yourself and how you and your team performs. I'm going out here still trying to help us make the playoffs."
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