Zach LaVine is quickly becoming the most exciting player of this year’s NBA draft class. Born in Renton, Washington, LaVine made his inaugural appearance at the Seattle Pro-Am All-Star Game this weekend, where his interplanetary athleticism was on full display.
The Minnesota Timberwolves rookie sat down with Dime after the game to chat about all sorts of topics, like his love for the television show Castle, how Smush Parker influenced him as a dunker (no, really), the ongoing Kevin Love rumors, his Draft night controversy, and more.
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Dime: You’re a Washington native. Were you a Sonics fan as a kid?
Zach LaVine: I was. I was a little bit of a Seattle fan, but growing up I was always a Kobe Bryant fan. He was my favorite player.
Dime: This is your first time playing at the Seattle Pro-Am. What was the experience like?
ZL: It was incredible. I’d be happy to come back and do it again. This was definitely a good experience. You know, Jamal [Crawford] called me, and he told me to come do it. He wanted the fans to see me, and I hope they enjoyed it.
Dime: I asked Jamal this question earlier. What do you think this tournament means to basketball fans in Seattle since they no longer have an NBA team?
ZL: He’s doing a great thing, you know, bringing the pros back and giving them a little glimpse of the NBA scene. This town definitely deserves an NBA team, and in my opinion, I feel like we’ll get one in the next couple of years.
Dime: Both your parents were athletes. Is athletic ability something that came naturally to you, was it something you had to work at, or was it a combination of both?
ZL: It was a combination of both. I spent a lot of time working on my athleticism, you know, running, push ups. I gotta thank God because he blessed me with this ability, but I still work at it and different things like that, so…
Dime: What advice do you have for the kids here today who wanna work on their hops?
ZL: I do a lot of lunges, actually. Plyometrics, running hills…
Dime: Did you run track?
ZL: I didn’t run track, but I’m always racing my teammates.
Dime: You seem like you would’ve been a good long jumper, kinda like James White.
ZL: Yeah. Just try to dunk a lot. Michael Jordan never really worked on his jumping, but he was always dunking.
Dime: You absolutely shut down the dunk contest today. What was that experience like, going up against a professional dunker like Golden Child [Kevin Kemp]?
ZL: I was scared, you know, but I know I got some things not many people could compete with. But that dude [Golden Child] is crazy. I’ve seen him dunk before and things like that, but yeah, that dude’s crazy.
Dime: Do you watch the guys from Team Flight Brothers, Dunkademics, other professional dunkers to get some ideas?
ZL: Yeah, I watch ‘em, and I wanna keep my dunks creative and exciting.