The Bulls Are Feeling the Impact of Zach LaVine's Team USA Experience

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The Bulls Are Feeling the Impact of Zach LaVine’s Team USA Experience

Chicago Bulls

If I won an Olympic Gold Medal, it wouldn’t leave my neck. Showering, sleeping, grocery shopping, working out, jury duty, you name it, my trusty gold medal would be there.

Would it be a tad pretentious? Sure, but it’s a freakin’ gold medal, people! I’d flash that thing to get a table faster. I’d use it to make friends. I’d absorb a punch with it in a bar fight. I’d flaunt that thing day and night … which is at least part of the reason I don’t have one.

Most deserving gold medalists aren’t going to shove it in our faces. As recognition of all the hard work that goes into accomplishing something so few have achieved, I’m sure most people have it securely placed. I’m also sure that what stands more important than the medal itself is the process that went into acquiring it. You know, the whole “it’s the journey, not the destination” kind of thing.

A good example of that mentality came from Zach LaVine, who recently joined his former Team USA teammate on The Draymond Green Show. Winning his first gold medal this season in Tokyo, LaVine spoke with Green about his Olympic experience and how the journey has changed the player we see on the floor this season.

“It was big for me to go out there and play on the level of guys of my talent and better than me. And for more to accept a role on a team where I’m not going to be the No. 1 scoring option. We all had to find our roles. I give you credit. The reason we won that gold medal – KD was by far the best player on that team – but without you we wouldn’t have won that. You were the overall leader, but you accepted your role and played it for what it was.

I think coming into this season, I never had that type of mindset. So, by any means necessary, just trying to find out a way to win, how I can improve my game to play both side of the floor. And then also share the floor with another dynamic guy, as DeMar has been, and still be myself.”

Not only was the Olympic experience one of affirmation for LaVine – who had a long, losing road to earning the respect he deserved – but it was one that seemingly helped him take the necessary next step in his career.

As the Chicago Bulls invested in new infrastructure that completely re-invented the roster this season, it was going to be up to LaVine to re-invent parts of himself. A group with two fellow All-Stars and a number of other worthy contributors, the talent level on the Bulls was unlike anything LaVine had played with at the NBA level before. Now, 47 games into the season, he sits 2nd in the Eastern Conference on the verge of his second All-Star appearance despite not leading the Bulls in points per game for the first time since he arrived in Chicago.

I’m not trying to imply the Bulls would not be in their current position if LaVine had never traveled overseas this summer, but I think it’s nearly impossible to suggest it has not played a role, right? He said it himself, it provided a new mindset and taught him how he can impact winning alongside other high-caliber talents. If we take that learning experience away, who knows exactly how fast we would have seen this all come together.

Check out LaVine’s full interview with Green below:

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.