ATLANTA – It may not have been how the event normally goes, but the moment was still a special one for the Bulls’ best player.
Four years after tearing his ACL and after a few seasons of building himself into the Bulls’ top player, Zach LaVine was made his first appearance in an All-Star Game on Sunday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. A reserve for Team Durant, the guard became the first member of the Bulls to make the game since Jimmy Butler in 2017.
It wasn’t with a full crowd or three days of activities in Atlanta like a typical year for the mid-season showcase, but it was still a special moment for LaVine, who talked openly this week about what it meant to him.
After 28 minutes in the game, the experience didn’t disappoint.
“It was a lot of fun, man, to go out there and play,” said LaVine. “I think the players do a good job of making their own energy.”
LaVine helped to contribute that during his time on the floor, coming up with a few dunks and three-pointers during the contest. He finished with 13 points as he shot 5-of-10 from the floor including a pair of three-pointers. LaVine also had four rebounds, three assists, and three steals on the evening as his Team Durant lost to Team LeBron 170-150.
It was a busy evening for LaVine, who also took part in the three-point contest, but his 22 wasn’t enough to come home with the win. Stephen Curry of the Warriors got that with a score of 28.
LaVine even took some time during the NBA Slam Dunk contest, which was held at halftime of the All-Star Game, to give some pointers to the participants. The two-time slam dunk competition winner watched as Blazers’ guard Anfernee Simons won this year’s edition of the contest.
Those are experiences that LaVine had before Sunday night, with the All-Star Game itself being the highlight of the guard’s evening. He hopes it won’t be the last.
“It was great. You never really know what it’s like until you’re there, and I think it can only get better from here,” said LaVine. “It was a great experience and I can’t wait to get back.”
If he keeps playing the way he has so far this season, a return trip figures to be in his future.