Bulls: Zach LaVine embodies everything Chicago stands for

Chicago Bulls, Zach LaVine (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls, Zach LaVine (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

When the Chicago Bulls traded Jimmy Butler away for Kris Dunn, a lottery pick who would become Lauri Markkanen, and Zach LaVine, a lot of Bulls fans were upset.

They had a reason to be. Jimmy Butler embodied Chicago in many ways. He was a blue-collar hard worker who had to scrap and claw for everything he earned in the NBA.

Through blood, sweat, and tears, Butler earned the respect and admiration of Bulls fans around the world. Why would the Chicago Bulls make this trade? The general consensus was that the Bulls were fleeced.

Out of the three players acquired, Zach LaVine was definitely the most interesting as well as the riskiest. LaVine was averaging a then-career-high 18.9 PPG with the Minnesota Timberwolves before he tore his ACL.

Worse yet, he was in the last year of his contract. The Bulls would have to decide whether to resign him or not with a limited number of games.

How could Chicago Bulls fans believe in Zach LaVine and his recovery after everything they went through over the previous decade?

The Chicago Bulls should be happy they were patient with Zach LaVine.

It was easy to be bitter at that time as a Chicago Bulls fan. We just went through the heartbreaking Derrick Rose experience which began with a torn ACL.

Then, despite the odds, an unheralded No. 30 draft pick named Jimmy Butler rose to superstardom just in time for the Bulls to decide they should trade him and go with a young team equipped with the most loaded word in sports, potential.

Potential didn’t help Kris Dunn or Lauri Markkanen during their times in Chicago. However, against all odds, Zach LaVine came back from his torn ACL to play pretty good basketball in his first year with the Bulls.

They chose to let him seek an offer from the Sacramento Kings that summer as a restricted free agent. He received one and they matched. Zach LaVine was no longer a rental.

Afterward, he poured his heart and soul into the Chicago Bulls. He endured some of the worst rosters and coaches in Bulls history yet he improved every single year statistically and as a leader.

He finally received the reinforcements he needed when Nikola Vucevic was acquired from the Orlando Magic and DeMar DeRozan signed in free agency.

This history lesson serves to remind you of everything Zach LaVine endured to become one of the greatest Chicago Bulls who has ever laced up at the Madhouse on Madison.

Detractors can point to his defense or his isolation-heavy style as negatives but the truth is that LaVine has improved a facet of his game every year as long as he’s not dealing with an injury.

LaVine had a down year last year after injuring his knee during the season. Despite this injury nagging him year-long, he refused to sit out.

He wanted to finally win for this city. While it didn’t pan out as hoped, the heart that he displayed while clearing playing hurt should not be lost on Bulls fans. The injury was so significant that he had to have knee surgery in the offseason.

Once more, LaVine went back to rehab on a knee. Two knee surgeries would’ve discouraged many individuals from playing the kind of aggressive ball that LaVine plays.

When it was announced that he wouldn’t play in the season opener, it opened up Bulls fans to all of the fears that we held for Derrick Rose and that we currently hold for Lonzo Ball.

Despite the worries and fears of the fans, the Chicago Bulls rewarded him with a max contract for two reasons. Those were his undeniable talent and what he stands for in relation to the Windy City.

Those fears were unfounded. Zach LaVine may have started the season off carefully but he has long since taken the training wheels off. While he was beginning to show his trademark explosiveness before the All-Star break, he erupted afterwards.

He has silenced all the critics and doubters who believed that he wasn’t an alpha, at times carrying this team to victory.

Zach LaVine’s consistent determination, hard work, refusal to quit, and leadership have proven that he is the living basketball embodiment of the city of Chicago. His jersey will one day hang in the rafters.

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