PARIS --- This is Zach LaVine’s first trip to Paris. The Chicago Bulls’ two-time All-Star guard hopes it’s not his last.
And not just on a personal level but from a basketball standpoint.
After winning a gold medal with Team USA at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, LaVine said following Wednesday’s practice that he’d “love to” represent his country again at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“It would be great whenever you have an opportunity to play for your country,” LaVine said at Palais des sports Marcel-Cerdan. “Last time, I was successful. We were able to bring back gold from over in Tokyo. It’s a great experience. I’ll never forget that. If I have another shot at doing that, I’d love to.
“Obviously, you have to see what the future holds and how you feel and how your body feels. But whenever you have an opportunity like that, especially in a setting like it’s going to be over here, it’s going to be fun.”
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were actually held in 2021 because of the global pandemic. They also were played without fans, denying LaVine the full Olympic experience. The contrast was made even sharper by Team USA scrimmaging in Las Vegas in front of fans as part of the pre-tournament preparation.
“We had to go out there and do our job either way. But it wasn’t the full experience,” LaVine said. “It was really fun in Vegas before we left with all the fans and playing in the arena. Going over to Tokyo, doing Opening Ceremonies with all the athletes, it was a unique experience because it was the first time in history all the athletes were together and really banded together and experienced it for each other.”
LaVine drew raves from everyone ranging from U.S. head coach Gregg Popovich to assistant coach Steve Kerr for his selfless play and defensive detail in Tokyo. LaVine came off the bench but ended up being one of the more important role players and still averaged in double figures.
Another benefit to a potential Olympics experience is it will represent a normal offseason for LaVine as far as basketball activities. Last offseason, LaVine underwent an arthroscopic surgical procedure on his left knee and spent his time rehabilitating from that rather than playing 5-on-5 or doing drill and skill work on the court.
After an inconsistent start to this season which featured him sitting out of one game in three of the Bulls’ first four sets of back-to-back games, LaVine rounded into form with an elite December. He’s now averaging 23.9 points and shooting 38.5 percent on 7.9 3-point attempts per game.
“Obviously, there were ups and downs and there should be coming off of injury,” LaVine said. “I can take the bumps and bruises that come with that. I understood I was going to get back to doing what I do.”
LaVine is currently nursing an injury to the middle finger on his shooting hand. He hasn’t missed a game and has been listed as probable on all injury reports. He spent his post-practice media session with reporters icing the knuckle on that finger, which took a blow at the end of the recent road loss in Washington.
“I don’t know what happened. I just heard it crack,” LaVine said. “It’s fine. I’m icing it and maintaining it as much as I can. I’m going to be playing either way.”