City Sports Report

Zach LaVine speaks after winning Slam Dunk Contest

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Zach Levine spoke after winning the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest last night for All-Star Saturday night.  Below is a transcript of what he had to say.

Zach, first of all, congratulations.

ZACH LaVINE:  Thank you.

Q. Your first dunk was called the “Space Jam Dunk”

ZACH LaVINE:  Yes. 
Q.  I also watched “Space Jam” as a kid.  And the dunk you did, the first one, was nowhere near any dunk Michael made in that movie, even with the animations.  So my question is, your first and second dunk, how and when did you come up with those dunks?
ZACH LaVINE:  I came up with them‑‑ it’s kind of weird.  I came up with them in high school.  I was practicing them in high school.  I just wanted to come out with a bang.  And I tried to get a 50 on every dunk.  It didn’t happen, but I was close on all of them.  So that was the main thing.  I wanted to show everybody what I got.

Q.  Zach, I’ve got to know your raw emotions.  What are you feeling right now?  Second youngest player to win.
ZACH LaVINE:  I’m still on cloud nine.  I feel like I’m dreaming.  Seeing all the Dunk Contests and people hoisting the trophy.  I just saw myself do it and lived it.  So it’s a dream come true.  I’m glad my family is here to witness it and go through it.

Q.  You did listen to the full soundtrack to felt ready?
ZACH LaVINE:  I listened to part of it.  I listened to other stuff to get me psyched.

Q.  Congratulations.
ZACH LaVINE:  Appreciate it.

Q.  Please tell us normal people how does it feel to look at the rim from above it?
ZACH LaVINE:  I don’t even notice it.  It’s just‑‑ you know, it’s hard to describe, actually.  It feels really good.  I know that.  It takes a while to come down.

Q.  As far as the Timberwolves and you guys’ lack of success this year, how much does this mean to have this sort of moment in a season like this?
ZACH LaVINE:  It means a lot.  Even last night, you know, Wiggins getting MVP of the rookie game.  Then me coming out here to get the Slam Dunk Contest.  It shows we’re on the rise.  We all want to be great.  Just be on the lookout for that.  We have the right type of mindset.  We’re all good kids.  We really just want to be the best we can.

Q.  From the first time I saw you getting onto the court, the first words that came to my mind was “self‑confidence”.  That self‑confidence comes from the time that you dedicate in order to practice?
ZACH LaVINE:  Yeah.

Q.  From the time you dedicate to think about it.  What’s your secret?  First question.  Second one, this is your big footprint.  How do you see yourself in ten years?
ZACH LaVINE:  My confidence, I just look at all the greats:  Michael Jordan confident.  Kobe Bryant, confident.  LeBron James confident.  I got it instilled in a young age from my dad.  He played professional football.  If you’re not confident‑‑ have some arrogance, cockiness.  That’s what all the greats have.  You have to have confidence in your game.  I know I work on my game a lot.  If you do the hard work in the gym, you know what you can do, so I guess that’s where it comes from.
The second one, where do I see myself in two years?

Q.  Ten years.
ZACH LaVINE:  Ten years.  I’m 19.  So‑‑ 29, I’m not going to be 30 yet.  I think really highly of myself.  So I want to be one of the up‑and‑coming young players in the NBA.  So I guess I can leave it at that.  I want to be the best player I can be when it’s all said and done.

Q.  What music were you listening to?
ZACH LaVINE:  What music was I listening to?

Q.  Before the game.
ZACH LaVINE:  Drake’s new album just came out, so I listened to a little bit of that.  My boy Nikko Lafre dropped a song about me called “Zach LaVine”.  That got me hyped.  And I always listen to Cheap Keith.  He gets me in the right mindset.  Fabolous, too; we’re in Brooklyn, so.

Q.  Which one of the dunks was the one that nearly knocked Andrew Wiggins unconscious?
ZACH LaVINE:  That’s the funny thing, is I didn’t do that one.  I got some tricks in the bag still.

Q.  Does that mean you have another Dunk Contest in you to try to bring that one out?
ZACH LaVINE:  Hopefully.  I like dunking.  I didn’t bring them all out.  But the one that‑‑ I know one of them that almost knocked him out was the first one, the first one that was in my routine.  We were practicing the other day, and he said, “I ain’t never seen that before.”  He can get up, too.  So that means are a lot coming from my boy.

Q.  I guess yesterday when Andrew said he fainted when he saw your routine.  There was a lot of hype going into this thing.  How were you able to live up to that?
ZACH LaVINE:  I guess it goes back to what you said, the confidence part.  I believe in myself.  I know I can go out there and do my dunks and I just wanted to make my family proud.  We’re entertainers.  We’re in New York.  I wanted to get everybody off their feet and have a good time.  I was having a ball out there.

Q.  After you won the contest, some fans start to compare you with Vince Carter.  What do you think of the comparison?
ZACH LaVINE:  I’m not‑‑ Vince Carter is above me.  I don’t want to get into that area right now.  I’m still a rookie.  Vince Carter, you know, is a future Hall of Famer.

Q.  There was some dispute on TV it sounded like as to whether that was a full 540.  Would you give it a 540 on that?
ZACH LaVINE:  Victor’s dunk?

Q.  I’m sorry.  I got it confused.  Would you have disputed it?
ZACH LaVINE:  That was a crazy dunk.  That’s never been done before in a Dunk Contest.  That’s a professional dunk.  When I saw him do that, I was like I have to bring something out.

Q.  What inspired you?  Why the Jordan 23 and the colors you wore, the Jordan 23?
ZACH LaVINE:  That’s from the “Space Jam” movie.  That’s what he was wearing in the Looney Tunes practice.  I brought the people that sang the song out with me.  I just wanted to do something different.  You can’t go wrong with Jordan, I guess.  The greatest player ever and one of the best movies.  That was one of my childhood idols, childhood favorite movies.  I thought it would be something creative.

Q.  Congratulations.  You wore Kobe’s shoes today.  Does that mean anything?
ZACH LaVINE:  Kobe is my favorite player.  Kobe is the last teenager to win it.  I just wanted to give him a little respect.  It’s my favorite shoe, too.

Q.  Zach, with the All‑Star Game in Toronto next year, would you like to issue a challenge to Wiggins to join you next year, compete in his own country?
ZACH LaVINE:  I’m going to be talking a lot of mess to him to try to join it.  I’m looking forward to that.  It gives me inspiration to make it next year.  It gives me a lot of motivation.

Q.  Congratulations on the Slam Dunk contest.  I was lucky enough to witness your dunks in Pro‑Am in Seattle over the summer.  Can you talk about a little bit of difference between that kind of Dunk Contest which is this kind of Dunk Contest in a more official setting?
ZACH LaVINE:  The one back in Seattle I went to, that was my first time being home since being drafted, going to UCLA.  And there was a lot of people coming to the games.  It was the Jamal Crawford All‑Star Game; a lot of pros were out there.  I just wanted to go out there and show the town some love.  Give them what I got.  I’m in the NBA now, and I just wanted to show them I’m back in the town.
So it was a littler gym than the Barclays Center on national TV.  So that’s the difference.  The NBA versus Pro‑Am.

Q.  19 year old, the last past couple of years Slam Dunk contest has been kind of weak.  How do you feel bringing the excitement back to All‑Star Weekend?
ZACH LaVINE:  Slam Dunk Contest is supposed to be the hype around All‑Star Weekend.  That’s what gets the crowds.  I wanted to put a jolt through the crowd and get everybody off their feet, and just have a really good time.

Q.  You’ve had some good moments this season.  You’re going through a transition in positions.  Any part of you concerned that something like this tonight will take away the attention from a lot of other things that has been going well for you?  That this will dominate the conversation?
ZACH LaVINE:  Yeah, that’s always been a little bit of a knock‑‑ it’s not a bad thing, but Zach LaVine is just a dunker.  That’s not true.  I feel I’m a really good skilled all‑around player.  I guess I’ll have to show something big like this in my game, and that will give me more motivation to get better and better.

Q.  Since this raises your profile around the league, do you sort of have to be prepared whoever you’re playing against, that that guy is going to come at you a lot harder than they would have before this?
ZACH LaVINE:  Definitely.  You’re going to be recognized a lot more.  It’s something everybody wants.  Like I said, it gives me more motivation to get better.

Q.  Zach, there’s a lot of talk that the Three‑Point Contest might have been the highlight of the night.  You say you love dunking.  Were you motivated by that?
ZACH LaVINE:  Oh, yeah.  Three‑Point Contest is crazy.  I had Wes Matthews winning.  He scored 22 and got knocked out with 24.  That’s crazy.  They had so many All Stars in that.  I just wanted to come out and give the crowd even more.  Like I said, a jolt of energy and‑‑ I just wanted to have a lot of fun.  I did have a lot of fun out there.
Thank you, guys.  I appreciate it.

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