I Think it's Safe to Say Zach LaVine Loves Billy Donovan

Social Navigation


I Think it’s Safe to Say Zach LaVine Loves Billy Donovan

Chicago Bulls

Billy Donovan is the head coach Zach LaVine has been waiting for, but don’t take my word for it.

In an interview with WGN Radio’s Kevin Powell, the Chicago Bulls’ 2x All-Star opened up about his relationship with Donovan, giving him quite the massive stamp of approval.

“Billy’s the best coach in the world for me. I’ve got along with him more than any other coach I’ve had in my career, and I’ve had a good amount of them,” LaVine laughed.

The guy’s not kidding.

LaVine has played for six different head coaches over his eight-year in the NBA. When this regular season comes to an end in April, it will be his first time playing two full seasons under the same head coach. So while I’m sure newfound continuity has at least some kind of subconscious effect on LaVine’s high praise for Donovan, there is no question these two met at the perfect time.

A straightforward coach who’s on his way to his sixth winning campaign in seven seasons, Donovan has carried over his pristine college reputation to the pro level. He has prioritized winning every step of the way, so much so that he decided to part ways with the Oklahoma City Thunder when the team pressed the rebuild button two summers ago.

As for LaVine, he was stuck on rebuilding team after rebuilding team since he walked onto an NBA court in 2014. Not once had he sniffed the playoffs over his first seven seasons, and not once did his team look prepared. LaVine, on the other hand, couldn’t look more prepared.

LaVine blossomed to the point where the Bulls’ new front office understood they had a star to build around. They knew LaVine was ready to win now, and they knew Donovan could teach him how. Fast forward to today, and the Chicago Bulls sit 2nd in the Eastern Conference with their most wins in half a decade.

While the working relationship between LaVine and Donovan is exactly what both were looking for, it’s the off-the-court bond that seems to stand out most to the Bulls’ emerging superstar.

“I talk and text with him all the time, and the main thing about him is he cares about you more as a person than a basketball player,” LaVine said. “He’ll come to you and ask you about your family, how’s your day going.

He worries more about how you’re doing as a person and cares about that more than basketball. And that’s what I really appreciate because – to be honest – not everyone is like that in the world of sports. So it’s a breath of fresh air when you can have a friend as a coach. Obviously, he’s still going to go out there and coach and say what he has to say, but you have a guy that has your back at the end of the day.”

Whether it be as a top-tier college recruiter at Florida or a manager of superstars in OKC, it’s more than clear that Donovan knows how to connect with his talent. As I wrote above, he’s someone who prioritizes winning, but he understands the only way to do just that is to truly care about the guys on the court.

Nothing about what LaVine had to say to WGN Radio is surprising. He’s praised Donovan’s experience plenty in the past, and I suspect him to do it plenty more in the future. Not to mention, winning might as well make the heart grow fonder. But it’s still important every time we hear LaVine publically compliment his head coach. Not only does each statement prove this front office made the right choice, but it should give us an even greater view of LaVine’s long-term plans. As someone who is headed toward unrestricted free agency, the presence of Donovan could prove just as vital as guys like DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic in keeping LaVine in Chicago for years to come.

You can check out the full interview with LaVine with WGN Radio here



Author: Elias Schuster

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