Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine has proven over the past two years that he’s the best dunker in the NBA right now. His back-to-back Slam Dunk Contest victories and ferocious throw-downs are proof of insane acrobatic abilities that remind fans of Vince Carter and Dominique Wilkins in their primes.
He’s also dominant when it comes to FanClash, a site where sports fans compete in 10-question sports trivia contests to win cash and prizes. LaVine—who’s a Featured Host for FanClash’s Slam Dunk Trivia night March 9 from 9-10 p.m. EST—sat down with us to talk about what goes through his mind prior to lift-off for a slam, how he got involved with his charity to help the hearing impaired and why he’s ready to take on your best shot in FanClash trivia.
Uproxx: So I know you’re hosting a featured event for FanClash Trivia on Wednesday, March 9, can you talk about that a little bit?
Zach LaVine: “It’s just going to be a lot of fun, seeing people communicate with me outside of just basketball, having a friendly gamesmanship and playing some trivia games, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
UP: Are you pretty stoked to interact with the fans and see who has the best sports knowledge out there?
ZL: “Yeah, I know there are a lot of people out there who know their stuff, but, if there’s one person I wouldn’t want to go up against, it’s my dad. If he got on there, you know, he might just win it all. If there are more people like that out there, then I’m going to be kind of scared. I’ve got to watch out for them.”
UP: One of the cool things about FanClash is that it pits friends and their sports knowledge against one another. Is that something that you’ve always done with buddies?
ZL: “Oh, yeah, I do it all the time. Like I said, me and my dad have done it for a long time and we get family members involved, too, basically on a daily basis.”
UP: I know that the FanClash event is benefitting your charity The Metro Deaf School in Minneapolis. How important is that for you to continue to spread the good work you’re doing?
ZL: “It’s just a lot of fun and I’m really glad that they get to be involved with that. I took sign language in high school, so I’ve been involved with that community for a while now. It’s just really cool to have them involved, help them out and to benefit them.”
UP: You were on a recent episode of “Game Changers” doing community work with deaf students, what inspired you to get involved with that specific community and become an ambassador for them?
ZL: “While taking sign language in high school, one of our assignments was to go out and participate in the deaf community, so I really got to know a lot of the group from that. I felt like they needed a little bit more of a voice, because people treat them different just because they’re hearing impaired. You know, just trying to show people that they should be treated equally. It’s really cool.”
UP: You’re a two-time dunk champ and one of the highest fliers in the league, can you talk about how you come up with some of your dunks?
ZL: “To tell the truth, man, I don’t even know half of the time. I try to find something that’s new and creative that no one has ever tried before, so I just try to put my own style on the dunks. I’m not a big prop guy, so I just go out there and use my athleticism and jumping ability to try and put my own little twist on dunks that I know I can do. Honestly, man, just kind of wing it.”
UP: Come on, man, you have to practice this stuff on a regular basis, right?
ZL: (laughing) “Yeah, but sometimes you just go out there and you can feel it. For the dunk contest, I’ve got a routine down and I practice those, but that last dunk I did where I went between my legs from about the free-throw line, I had never tried that before, so it just sort of happened.”
UP: What’s it feel like when you’re about to take off for a slam, either in a dunk contest or during a game?
ZL: “You know, in-game dunks are a lot different than the dunk contest because I’m going out there trying to dunk on someone, where the dunk contest is more of a showmanship for the fans, where you can show-off a little bit. Both of them are fun, but I’d choose a dunk in a game because it can get the crowd into it, even opposing fans, so it’s a lot more fun.”
UP: When you’re not playing hoops, how do you spend your time?
ZL: “I usually play video games or watch TV; I like movies a lot. I’m a big family person, so probably go and kick it with my family or play with my dog.”
UP: Who was your favorite player growing up, or someone you tried modeling your game after?
ZL: “There wasn’t really anyone I modeled my game after, but Kobe Bryant was one of my idols growing up, and, of course, everyone loved Michael Jordan. But Kobe was more of my era, so that was the guy who I tried to learn from, more of his demeanor and attitude than his actual game, though.”
UP: If you had to pick three other guys, who would your dream dunk contest be against?
ZL: “Oh, man, that’s a great question. I’ll go with Michael Jordan, Vince Carter and, oh, man, probably Jason Richardson or Nate Robinson.”
UP: If you could do any dunk that’s humanly possible, what would it be… or do we have to wait till next year’s dunk contest to see it?
ZL: “There’s still one dunk that I haven’t tried yet, and I don’t think anyone’s done it before, so you’ll have to wait and see if I do it in the dunk contest next year.”
Want to go one-on-one against Zach LaVine in FanClash Trivia? Register here and you could win one of 15 signed basketballs and other prizes.