Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine was seen on camera yelling at someone near the end of their 124-122 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the United Center on Tuesday night.
LaVine, late in the fourth quarter as he’s lining up for a free throw, could be seen yelling, “I have f---ing 40 points,” to someone off camera on the sideline.
Zach LaVine: "I have f---ing 40 points"— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 26, 2020
5 seconds later, he drilled a shot from the logo 😯 pic.twitter.com/nyFyIZD8KN
While many assumed that he was screaming at his coach Jim Boylen, who he’s clashed with in the past, LaVine made it clear on Wednesday that Boylen wasn’t on the receiving end.
“You get into the heat of the battle and between players when you guys are talking, you talk smack sometimes, right? And that’s all it was,” LaVine said, via ESPN.
“We were still down. Dude was talking a little mess to me and I just let him know, ‘Look, I’ve got 40, I don’t know why you’re talking to me.’ I don’t know why they said they thought I was talking to Jim, but it was just people being competitive in the game talking.”
LaVine hasn’t agreed with some of Boylen’s coaching moves in the past, including twice last month when he publicly questioned his late-game timeout decisions. LaVine was one of “the most vocal” when players confronted Boylen about how he was running the team in 2018, too, shortly after players reached out to the NBA Players Association over Boylen’s “extreme tactics.”
“That stuff sells with what’s happened before,” LaVine said, via ESPN. “Between a player and coach, I don’t think anybody should ever think it’s going to be buddy-buddy or best friends. You have mutual respect and obviously, when you have two competitive people out there, they just want the best, you want to win, and we haven’t been in a winning situation yet, so I think people get frustrated, but at the end of the day, me and Jim talked.
“We have player-coach meetings and we’re in a good place right now. It’s unfortunate that it got misconstrued, but it was just between two players out there just having fun with the game.”
The other reason he thinks people rushed to that conclusion? He’s playing better.
LaVine finished with 41 points and five rebounds while shooting 19-of-35 from the field Tuesday. He’s averaged a career-high 25.5 points per game this season, his sixth in the league, and has already dropped six 40-point games this season.
“I’ve got to do a better job,” LaVine said, via ESPN. “The cameras have been following me lately, so people are going to make their own assumptions on what’s going on between me and Jim or me and the team, but our relationship is fine. I’m a competitive and fiery guy on the court, so that’s pretty much what happened.”
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