Getting to Know Zach LaVine

Getting to Know Zach LaVine

Eastbay and Nike teamed up to provide an all-access look into basketball’s brightest young athletes. These athletes are tomorrow’s biggest superstars, and we wanted to get an inside look at some of the hungriest players in the game. Scoop Jackson conducted the interviews. He writes for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine, and he also appears on ESPN Radio and TV shows. He worked as a copywriter and author for Nike from 2001-2005 and has previously contributed to XXL Magazine, Slam Magazine, and other publications.

Jackson sat down with Zach LaVine, who starred at UCLA before being drafted in the first round by Minnesota. LaVine is a two-time dunk contest champion, was an NBA All-Rookie team selection in 2015, and the Rising Stars Challenge MVP in 2016. He averaged 14 points per game last season on a team loaded with young talent.

Check out the highlights of the Q&A between the two, where they discuss LaVine’s upbringing, dunking skills, and training regimen.

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On where Zach played the most while growing up:

I’m a backyard dude. I had a nailed-up hoop in the backyard, and then I had just a regular crank-it-up hoop. I used to go to parks all the time. My dad used to drive around and go to parks. Other than that, man, I was backyard playing one-on-one. Went to YMCA Boys and Girls Club, of course. Other than that, man, I was in the backyard putting up thousands and thousands of shots.

On his family being his biggest motivation:

I just want to make my family proud. That’s the main thing. We put in so many hours of work in my backyard. So many sacrifices that my mom, my sister, my dad have made. I’m not going to take any short cuts or anything like that. I am going to continue to do the best I can, and improve my game, and get to the levels that we set as a family. Make sure they’re okay – my family is number one.

On his local community supporting him as he grew up:

I know my neighbors probably didn’t like hearing basketballs bouncing at twelve o’clock at night, but they’re respectful and understood I was trying to be somewhere and go somewhere. It was really cool of them.

On how he became such a high-flyer:

I wasn’t always the bounciest person or most athletic. I was small. Sophomore year of high school, I was about 5’10” and 150 pounds. I did lunges on the football field. I ran. The thing I did the most, I just tried to dunk a lot. From a young age, I went outside and tried to replicate dunk contests. I was jumping over stuff when my dad lowered the hoop. I feel like if you just do it enough, it comes into your game.

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On his first dunk:

I think it was AAU basketball my sophomore year. We were in Vegas at Bishop Gorman. Got a steal. Dude was on the left-hand side of me. I rose up, just tried to get a little chest-to-chest, and dunked on him. It was a great feeling, man. The whole crowd went, “Ooh! Ahh!” All that stuff. It was when my family was there and my boys were there. It was cool.

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On his dunking ability and not wanting to be labeled as only a dunker:

Winning two dunk contests back-to-back has been a blessing. I’m very happy. I’m very fortunate I did that. I got a lot of support from that. But you don’t make the NBA – you don’t make your money – you don’t go out there and give blood, sweat, and tears all these hours for dunks. It’s just two points. I’ve got a lot to my game, man. It’s just going to continue to get better and better.

On his mindset when he’s on the court:

The main thing – when I step on the court, I think I’m the best. I think I’m the fastest and most athletic. You know, not to be cocky, but that’s just the mindset I have. That gets me going. That’s something that’s been instilled in me since I was a young buck.

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On his game-day routine:

Get a right good meal in. Get some fruit. I take a nap before every game. Take a nap and go out there and get ready.

On what’s next for him:

I came a long way since I was young. First two years in the league, I’ve been doing good, but there’s always room for improvement. I have higher goals for myself, and I’m definitely going to reach them.

Minnesota Timberwolves Unveil Alternate Uniform

Minnesota Timberwolves Unveil Alternate Uniform

Minnesota Timberwolves Unveil 'Lights Out' Alternate Uniform (1)

via Press Release

Tonight, the Minnesota Timberwolves are debuting their new alternate uniform at home against the Denver Nuggets.

“We’re excited to debut the new black jerseys tonight,” said Timberwolves forward Kevin Love. “We’ve had a chance to get a sneak peek at the jerseys, and are looking forward to wearing them and hope our fans enjoy them as much as we do.”

The adidas designed short-sleeve uniforms are inspired by the rich, sophisticated nightlife of Minneapolis and continue the team’s black uniform tradition that began in 1996. Side panels feature repeated ‘M’ and ‘W’ patterns to represent the team name. Timberwolves players were involved in the design and evaluation process.

“We think our fans are going to really embrace these new uniforms,” said Timberwolves CMO and Sr. VP of Marketing and Communications Ted Johnson. “As we continue to build our brand, it’s very important that we keep giving our fans fresh new looks and opportunities for them to identify with us.”

Minnesota Timberwolves Unveil 'Lights Out' Alternate Uniform (2)

adidas Announces Partnership with Ricky Rubio

adidas Announces Partnership with Ricky Rubio

adidas Announces Partnership with Ricky Rubio (2)

words // Brandon Richard

Today, adidas officially announces their long-term partnership with Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio.

“Growing up in Spain I always loved the adidas brand and their products,” said Rubio. “The last few years they’ve really changed the game with new technology and style in basketball shoes and apparel and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Even at the young age of 21, Rubio is a highly accomplished players with a loaded international resume. The Number 5 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, Rubio averaged more than 10 points, 8 assists and 2 steals and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in an injury-shortened rookie season. Prior to signing with Minnesota, Rubio helped the Spanish national team win the Silver Medal at the 2008 Olympics and became the youngest player ever in an Olympic basketball final. In an impressive European professional career that began at age 14, Rubio led FC Barcelona Basquet to the 2010 Euroleague title and was three times named the FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year.

“Ricky Rubio is a once-in-a-generation player,” said Lawrence Norman, adidas vice president of global basketball. “His work ethic and selflessness combined with his superior athleticism and playmaking have quickly made him one of the most exciting young players in the game.  When you watch Ricky on the court and talk to him after practice, you understand his pure enjoyment of playing basketball and that makes him a perfect fit for our brand.”

Rubio will be featured in a variety of upcoming adidas marketing initiatives and will play a role in the development of adidas basketball shoes and apparel.

adidas Announces Partnership with Ricky Rubio