Why Bulls' 2-time champion Zach LaVine plans to skip All-Star dunk contest

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K.C. Johnson
·2 min read
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Just say no: Bulls' LaVine won't do All-Star dunk show originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Given that Zach LaVine has nothing left to prove in the slam dunk contest that is perennially part of the NBA All-Star festivities and even skipped the event last year in his home arena of the United Center, it's no surprise to hear from the Bulls' guard that he won't thrill fans of his high-flying routine this year.

"I don't think I'll do the dunk contest," LaVine said on a Zoom media availability Tuesday night after his first All-Star selection.

LaVine memorably won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016, dueling the Magic's Aaron Gordon with eye-popping and jaw-dropping dunks while a member of the Timberwolves.

Last season, LaVine badly wanted to appear in his first NBA All-Star game because he felt he deserved to be there and because All-Star weekend landed in Chicago. When he didn't get named a reserve, LaVine withstood any clamoring to appear in the dunk contest and instead made his debut in the 3-point shootout. LaVine finished fourth, which is why he's up for redemption should the league extend an invitation to this year's event, which will be held before the March 7 game in Atlanta.

"I want to go out there and try to do the 3-point contest again," LaVine said. "I'll definitely take part in that."

LaVine is shooting a career-high 43.4 percent from 3-point range this season. He still dunks in games, but his days of doing between-the-legs dunks while taking off from the free-throw line are behind him.

"Even last year, I was thinking about doing it just because it was in Chicago. But I'm a little bit past that now, man," LaVine said. "And we've got a lot of games left. I don't want to lose my legs."

Because of the pandemic, what typically is All-Star weekend has been distilled down to a day. The health and safety protocols are strict. LaVine, who is extremely close to his family, doesn't care.

"I’m going to enjoy it. I’ve been a part of All-Star Weekend a couple of times, so I get the gist of it," LaVine said. "I just had a call before this that was, I actually thought it was a call with you guys. And it was a call from a bunch of my family and friends that I think BullsTV and my fiancé set up. Kind of pranked me. But as long as they're there (in Atlanta) with me, and I always take them there, my close group and family, I’m going to be perfectly fine because that’s who I do it for.’’

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