When the Timberwolves drafted Zach LaVine in 2014, he did not look all that excited about it. In fact, he looked the opposite of excited. He looked dejected. He looked heartbroken. Adam Silver called LaVine’s name, the camera cut to him, and there he was, laying his head down on his table, but not in an ecstatic “Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m in the NBA now” sort of way. It was more of a frustrated and flustered “Fuck me” kind of way, and that’s not me being insightful, that’s just me having eyeballs and seeing him mouth the words “Fuck me” to himself after he stood up. This is a GIF of it happening:
I’m willing to admit that there’s a possibility he was saying “Fuck, man” and not “Fuck me,” but I am not willing to accept any kind of spin on the angle that he was anything but unhappy in that moment. When it happened, I figured there wasn’t any way that LaVine’s time in Minnesota would be anything other than calamitous, and that the end of his time there would come quickly, and be even worse. Which is why it has been so great to watch him blossom this season.
LaVine has always been good at dunking. This season, though, he’s actually been good at actual basketball, and it’s so much fun to watch. Basically all of his numbers are up. You can maybe point to his assists and say those are down (3.1 to 2.4), but that’s mostly because he’s not playing point guard anymore. (He played shooting guard at UCLA, but he was forced to play point guard in Minnesota when Ricky Rubio got hurt, but he was switched back to shooting guard during the second half of last season, which is really what appears to have opened up his game).
His points per game has increased from 12.1 in his first two seasons to 19.1 for this year (including a sparkling 37-point game against the Magic about two weeks ago). His rebounds per game is up from 2.8 (career) to 3.2 (this season). His field goal percentage is up from 43.9 to 46.3. His 3-point field goal percentage is up from 37.3 to 44. His free throw percentage is up from 81.6 to 86.2. His effective field goal percentage is up from 49.4 to 56.4. His PER is up from 12.9 to 17.4. And his turnovers are down from 2.2 per game to 1.2 per game. It’s just all great.
Zach and Gravity: An Open Relationship
A One-Act Play
Zach LaVine as Zach LaVine, professional basketball player
Gravity as Gravity, the natural phenomenon
Tom Thibodeau as Tom Thibodeau, coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves
Zach LaVine and Gravity are dating, but they have an open relationship. Gravity, however, is hoping to make things exclusive. Zach is hesitant.
INT. TARGET CENTER — GAMEDAY MORNING SHOOTAROUND
GRAVITY (walking over to the bench, where Zach is sitting): Hey, Zach.
ZACH (tying his shoes, not looking up): What’s up, Gravity? I wasn’t expecting to see you today.
GRAVITY (laughing): I know. Me neither. I was just at home and then all of a sudden I realized I was here. I’m kind of everywhere, I guess.
A beat goes by.
GRAVITY: So listen. I was hoping we could talk.
ZACH: About what?
ZACH (shaking his head): Us? Gravity, we’ve been over this it feels like a hundred times. There’s no us. There’s you and there’s me. We’re separate of each other.
GRAVITY: It doesn’t feel like that.
ZACH (staring forward at the court): I know. I really do. I know what you’re talking about. It’s just… (no more words come out)
GRAVITY: I mean, I get it. Look, I thought I could handle us in an open relationship. I for real did. But I can’t. I’m just not used to it. I feel so good when you and I are together. Like, when you’re walking and your feet are on the ground. Or right now, how you’re just sitting there on that chair, which is on the ground. Or even when you’re sleeping all flat in your bed, which is on the ground. That feels good. Doesn’t that feel good to you?
ZACH (unconcerned): I guess.
GRAVITY: You’re saying that, and you sound like you don’t care, but I know that you do. I know how happy I make you.
ZACH: I don’t understand. The relationship we have is the relationship we’ve had. What’s the problem?
GRAVITY: The problem?
ZACH: Yeah. You’re here. What’s the problem?
GRAVITY: Well, I guess it’s just when you jump.
GRAVITY: You jump and it’s like I don’t exist to you anymore. You jump and it’s like, “Fuck you, Isaac Newton.” You jump and sometimes it feels like you’ll just never come down and that scares the hell out of me, frankly. I mean, how am I supposed to handle that? How am I supposed to handle being turned from a concrete law into a sometimes correct hypothesis? Are you even thinking about that? Are you even thinking about me when you jump?
ZACH (taking a moment): I guess not.
GRAVITY (concerned): What are you thinking about?
ZACH (taking a moment): It’s kind of hard to say.
GRAVITY: Hard to say because you can’t express the thought or hard to say because you don’t want to hurt me?
ZACH (staring forward, annoyed, purposely not looking at Gravity): Hurt you.
GRAVITY: Just say it, Zach. It can’t be worse than this. Because this really is the wor—
ZACH (interrupting Gravity): Freedom.
ZACH: That’s what I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about how I’m free. That’s what’s in my head. I’m free. There’s a freedom there, in the air. In that moment, I don’t need anyone. I don’t need anything. I don’t need …
GRAVITY is silent.
ZACH (looks up at Gravity): … you.
GRAVITY tries not to cry.
ZACH (shifting his shorts, toggling the string hanging out of the waistband): I don’t know why you had to come down here. This thing we have, this open relationship, it works great. Sometimes we’re together, sometimes we’re not. It has to be that way. Or I don’t know. Maybe we’d be better off just on our own, separately.
GRAVITY: Wait, wait, wait.
ZACH is silent.
GRAVITY is silent.
ZACH is silent.
GRAVITY: Did I tell you about how they made a movie about me?
ZACH (sighs): It ain’t about you. It’s just called Gravity. Not everything is about you. It’s about Sandra Bullock’s dead kid or some shit.
GRAVITY: What if I said you had to choose, Zach? What if I said there was no more open relationship option? What if it was all or nothing?
ZACH (thinks for a moment): Then I suppose it’s nothing.
ZACH: Look, Gravity, I like having you in my life. It’s just that sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it just really feels like … like …
GRAVITY: Like what?
ZACH is silent.
GRAVITY: Like what, Zach?
ZACH: Like you’re weighing me down.
GRAVITY looks at Zach.
ZACH (smiling a perfect Zach smile): Get it? Because you’re gravity.
GRAVITY (laughing, but that soft laugh you do when you’re also crying a little): Yeah, I get it.
ZACH: I thought of that just right now.
GRAVITY: Goddamn, I hate how cute you are.
ZACH: Can I call you after the game?
GRAVITY: How about if I come to the game?
ZACH stares blankly at Gravity.
GRAVITY: OK, OK. Fine.
COACH THIBODEAU (shouting at Zach): Zach! You’re up! Let’s go!
ZACH: I gotta go, Gravity. You know how coach is.
GRAVITY: Bye, Zach.
The 2016 Dunk Contest was easily the best Dunk Contest since 2000 (that was Vince Carter’s star-making moment), and the best actual one-on-one Dunk Contest since Michael and Dominique threw thunderbolts at each other in their hallowed 1988 rematch. Here is a picture of Zach LaVine during the 2016 Dunk Contest:
Imagine having that kind of command over your body, over the laws of physics, over the solar system, over the universe.
Zach LaVine does not jump inasmuch as he decides he does not want to be on earth anymore. It’s remarkable. He jumps and it’s like a Renaissance painting. He jumps and it’s like nothing else matters, because nothing else matters.
I really like that Zach LaVine’s legs go all the way up to his neck and his arms hang all the way down to his ankles.
Here’s a true story: One time I was watching the Timberwolves play the Bucks and Andre Miller threw Zach LaVine an alley-oop and as LaVine started his jump I leaned forward in my chair so I could get a better look and when I did, I accidentally mushed down on the remote with my hand and the channel changed, and so I got frustrated and picked up the remote and turned the channel back to the game and I promise he was still in the air waiting to catch the ball. Here’s a screenshot of that dunk, which I found on YouTube, which was surprising because it was from a Timberwolves-Bucks game and I didn’t even know that the NBA actually even recorded them but I’m glad they did because this was an amazing play:
Look at that shit.
I am personally offended by what Zach LaVine’s body is capable of doing.