Zach LaVine on skipping dunk contest: ‘There’s no reason to go back’
Zach LaVine broke the disappointing news Thursday that he’s passing on the opportunity to defend his back-to-back Slam Dunk Contest title at the 2017 NBA All-Star Game next month in New Orleans. To hear it from the high-flying Minnesota Timberwolves guard, there’s really no reason for him to even bother.
“I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I could in the dunk test,” LaVine said before Thursday’s game against Indiana, via the Star Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda. “There’s no reason to go back and out-do myself.”
The case can be made it would be difficult for LaVine to top his dazzling performances in the past two dunk contests. Not only did his high-flying aerial attacks of the rim leave fans in awe, some say he renewed interest in the contest, an event that had grown stale in previous years.
While LaVine’s victorious series of dunks in 2015 were impressive, his powerful performance in 2016 blew the roof off the gym.
LaVine understands NBA fans were chomping at the bit in anticipation of watching him possibly become a three-peat slam dunk contest champion.
“They’re a little mad, but fans are going to be with you or against you sometimes…,” LaVine said of the fans’ disappointment. “I think they’ll still like me at the end of the day.”
Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau — a no-nonsense coach who earlier this season called for less style and more substance out of his young squad — not surprisingly endorsed LaVine’s decision to pass on competing.
“That stuff is great if it fits in,” Thibodeau said. “But if it doesn’t fit in, prioritizing our team and winning is the most important thing and I think Zach will do that.”
LaVine is playing the third-most minutes in the NBA this season and recently dealt with a hip injury. After winning six of 10 games, the Wolves at 17-29 are only a hot streak way of getting within sniffing distance of the Western Conference’s eight-seed.
In other words, it’s arguably a smart decision for LaVine to sit this year’s dunk contest out.