Zach LaVine has decided against dunking for a three-peat.
The Minnesota Timberwolves’ guard won the slam dunk contest at All-Star weekend each of the past two seasons but announced Thursday that he won’t compete in this season’s event in New Orleans.
Nobody has ever won the event in three straight years.
“I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I could in the dunk contest,” the 21-year-old LaVine told reporters on Thursday. “It would be hard for me to go back and outdo myself.”
LaVine easily won the contest two years ago. Last season, he prevailed while outlasting Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon in a battle that went into overtime.
LaVine didn’t rule out a return in the future.
“I’m never saying I won’t ever do it again, but I’m focused on this year,” LaVine said. “We’re getting close to being able to make the playoffs and we have that in our mind. Getting the rest and just focusing more on just the game is the main thing.”
LaVine is averaging 19.2 points on a young team that features the past two NBA Rookie of the Years in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau was pleased with LaVine’s decision.
“He’s done a lot more than just be a dunker. His shooting, his playmaking, all that stuff,” Thibodeau said. “But the big thing is weighing whether the rest is more important to be ready for the second half of the season. So I don’t want him putting a lot of time and thought into that. …
“Prioritizing winning and our team is the most important thing and I think he’ll do that.”
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