Zach LaVine Says He Probably Won't Participate in 2021 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIFebruary 24, 2021

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) dunks the ball against the Charlotte Hornets during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine likely won't go for a third Slam Dunk Contest now that he's made it into the All-Star Game as a reserve.

Speaking to reporters after being named an All-Star for the first time in his career, the 25-year-old said he "probably won't do the dunk contest" but would be open to participating in the three-point contest instead.

"Last year I was thinking about doing it, especially because it was in Chicago," LaVine told reporters. "But I'm a little bit past that now and we've got a lot of games left. I don't want to lose my legs."

LaVine won the dunk contest in 2015 and 2016, contributing to an epic showdown with Orlando Magic star Aaron Gordon in the latter year. LaVine is shooting 43.4 percent from behind the arc after Tuesday night and ranks 20th overall in the league in three-point shooting.

The guard is also on a scoring tear this season. He's averaging a career-best 28.6 points while shooting 51.8 percent from the floor to go with 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per night. Considering LaVine may be a trade candidate at this year's deadline—if not in line for an extension from the Bulls this offseason—it makes sense the UCLA product would want to play it safe this year.

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It's not a matter of if LaVine can win again—he remains arguably the best in-game dunker in the league—it's that the negatives outweigh the positives.

The Bulls (14-16) are very much alive for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and LaVine is the unquestioned difference-maker for head coach Billy Donovan's club.

LaVine doesn't need to defend his dunk title at this point in his career. He's got bigger things to focus on.