Gay Links – All Posts: Zach LaVine finally had signature game in do-or-die win against the Raptors

2023 Play-In Tournament - Chicago Bulls v Toronto Raptors
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

Zach LaVine delivered one of his best games ever when the Bulls really needed it.

Arguably the most famous scene in the movie The Sandlot is when Babe Ruth’s ghost visits the film’s main character, Benjamin Rodriguez (aka “Benny the Jet”), to impart some precious wisdom to him.

“Let me tell you something, kid. Everybody gets one chance to do something great. Most people never take the chance, either because they’re too scared or they don’t recognize it when it spits on their shoes. This is your big chance. And you shouldn’t let it go by…someone’s telling you something, kid. And if I was you, I’d listen…Remember, kid, there’s heroes, and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Follow your heart, kid, and you’ll never go wrong.”

At that moment, he may as well have been talking to Zach LaVine. Despite being a two-time All-Star, max contract player, and a foundational building block to one of the game’s most storied franchises, LaVine has never done anything truly great on a big stage.

To be fair, up until yesterday, he never had any real opportunity to do so. Before last season, he had never played on a team that had won 40 games. And even last year, when they were able to make the playoffs, there were a multitude of factors working against him and the Chicago Bulls. Their first-round opponent was the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, they were without (and still are) their third-best player Lonzo Ball, and LaVine himself was dealing with a knee injury.

So, yesterday’s do-or-die play-in game against the Toronto Raptors represented his first real chance to do something great.

And for a large portion of the game, LaVine appeared to be one of the “most people” that Ruth was alluding to in his speech. LaVine’s Bulls fell behind by as much as 19 points in the third quarter, and quite frankly, they looked completely overmatched by the higher-seeded Raptors. The Bulls’ season seemed to be coming to a close. LaVine’s chance at greatness was fleeting right before his eyes.

That is, until LaVine started listening to the Ruth in his head and decided it was time to do something about it. Time to end the Bulls’ suffering, but not in the way his adversaries were hoping for.

LaVine tallied 30 points in the second half on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor (including 2 of 5 from three) and 12-of-13 free throw shooting. He brought Chicago all the way back from their daunting deficit, and thanks to his heroics, their playoff hopes are still alive.

Just as his naysayers predicted, he ended a season last night. The catch is that it was the Raptors who began their offseason earlier than they would have liked, not his beloved Bulls.

Many memorable heroes have graced the NBA hardwood over the years. But last night, LaVine took the first step toward proving he isn’t just a hero that’s worth remembering. He’s one of the ones who will never die.

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