Zach LaVine and Jim Boylen react to All-Star reserve selections


NEW YORK — Zach LaVine never hid his strong desire to make the Feb. 16 All-Star game at the United Center, talking openly and honestly about the goal all season.

Similarly, he didn’t hide Friday night when asked about not making it, addressing it frankly and without bitterness in his first comments since the coaches’ reserve selections were announced Thursday night.

“You just saw the trend that they more went for the players on winning teams. It sucks. Everybody feels like they’re deserving but there are only so many spots. I feel there are a lot of guys who can make their case. It’s the way it goes,” LaVine said at Barclays Center before the Bulls' matchup with the Nets. “I’m not going to let it define me or who I think I am. I think I know who I am every time I step on the court. I’m still looking forward to trying to help us make the playoffs.”

LaVine always has said he planned to remain in Chicago during All-Star weekend. As for his chances to participate in Saturday night’s slam dunk contest, which he has won twice, LaVine said he’s “still thinking about it.”

As he said this, Lauri Markkanen walked by and coughed, offering some comedic timing — almost as if he knew something. LaVine laughed it off, but did admit that Aaron Gordon entering the dunk contest makes that possibility more attractive.

“Um, a little bit. Of course,” LaVine said. “It’s friendly competition.”

LaVine and Gordon staged an epic dunk contest final at the 2016 All-Star game in Toronto.

“I’ll want to do something,” LaVine said. “We’ll figure out what I’m going to do in the next couple days.”

In past comments, LaVine has expressed more interest in participating in the 3-point shootout. No player ever has won both events.

“I think it’s still open,” LaVine said about that possibility. “I have to think about whether I want to do it or not.”

LaVine always wanted to make the All-Star game more because it may represent team success than individual accomplishments. Now that he hasn’t, he remains focused on the playoffs.

“I understand who I am as a player. I don’t think there are 12 people in the East who has had a better year than me,” LaVine said. “But like I said to you guys at the beginning of the year, it’s on winning. A lot of our individual success comes with winning. And when that comes for us, I think we’ll be happy as a group because it will affect not just me but the coaching staff and other players and the whole city of Chicago. I think that’s a bigger target point. When we get to that winning, I think everybody succeeds.”

Coach Jim Boylen offered congratulations to the seven reserves, calling them all “deserving,” but also reiterated his belief in LaVine.

“I am disappointed. We’re disappointed,” Boylen said. “We feel he’s an All-Star caliber player, he’s having an all-star season and he’s obviously a huge part to what we’re building. But we respect the process.

“Our goals have not changed. We hope to and want to and continue to play meaningful games in January and February and march and continue our fight to become a playoff team. We’re going to keep playing and Zach’s going to keep competing and playing at a high level. He’s having an All-Star caliber season. Because he didn’t get selected doesn’t mean he’s not playing at a big-time level. Congrats to the guys that made it, winning is important and we’ll move forward.”

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