Zach LaVine was drafted on June 26, 2014 with the No. 13th-overall pick. He’s gone on to play 15,219 minutes in 478 NBA games, earning two All-Star nods and a gold medal with Team USA.
For the Chicago Bulls franchise, LaVine currently ranks second in points per game over his career and third in total 3-point field goals made. He’s established himself as one of the NBA’s elite scorers while wearing red, finishing this regular season 13th in total points scored. And LaVine has done all of that without a single playoff appearance.
Indeed, at 27 years old in his eighth season of playing professional basketball, LaVine has played the most games without a playoff appearance among active players. It’s quite the unfortunate title to hold, but it’s one that will finally go away when the ball tips at the Fiserv Forum on Sunday night.
LaVine certainly sounded excited to have that burden off his shoulders when he told reporters “it’s about time” on Thursday afternoon at the Advocate Center. However, he also insisted the journey to get to this point hasn’t eaten away at him, explaining to NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer it’s all part of the process.
“I’m excited, man. I’ve said this, everybody’s gotta play the cards they’re dealt, and it just took me a little longer than everybody else. And I didn’t cop out and go to a different team,” LaVine said.
The last sentence warms my heart.
From an ACL recovery to listening to fans boo GarPax live on ESPN to dealing with the head coach that shall not be named, LaVine has gone through a whole lot of crap in Chicago. Yet, despite playing in an era of constant player movement, he has remained committed to the organization every step of the way. Even more important, he’s managed to improve his game each season and transform himself into a true winning player.
I also can’t help but think a comment like that is further proof he hopes to remain with the Bulls long-term. While there hasn’t been much skepticism about that fact, it’s always reassuring to hear someone is proud of staying committed to one place.
Anyway, I don’t have much else to say on the matter right now. I’m simply happy LaVine finally gets to experience something he’s worked so hard to achieve, and I can’t wait to see what energy he brings to a playoff court later this week.