Imagine that you are 19 years old and just found out you were selected as the 13th pick in the NBA draft.
Wouldn’t you be excited? You probably wouldn’t want to be judged too critically on the first words of your reaction. Maybe you’d jumble your words, or stutter. Maybe you’d swear.
Some people have speculated that LaVine’s reaction -- he uttered one word, an expletive -- meant he was disappointed that the Timberwolves drafted him. But put yourself in his shoes, with the lights shining down on you at the NBA draft.
“No man, I’m completely ecstatic,” LaVine told reporters in his first interview following the draft. “I couldn’t be more happy. I’m a very emotional person, so I might’ve uttered something completely wrong, but I put my head down, thanked God, kissed my mom, kissed my dad, couldn’t believe this was happening to me right now. I’m going into Minnesota full-fledged ready to become a Timberwolf.”
I watched the tape, and I saw someone in awe at hearing his name called at the NBA draft — as a lottery pick no less.
LaVine’s draft stock fluctuated in the months leading up to the draft and settled in the late teens/early 20s in the week before. And then he went 13th.
“You think about this since you’re a little kid, and you just can’t believe it’s actually happening,” LaVine said.
LaVine’s dream had just come true, so I place my bets on his being excited rather that disappointed. So does LaVine’s former coach at UCLA, Steve Alford.
“Honestly, I think that was way overblown,” Alford said of the commentary about LaVine's reaction. “It’s just looking into it and reading .… Zach’s a guy that really follows basketball, so I’m sure over the last 10 years he’s watched the NBA draft and all those names being called, and now, all of a sudden, when it’s your name being called, not only are you overjoyed, [but there’s] this feeling of ‘I can’t believe my name’s being [called],’” Alford said.
Timberwolves Coach Flip Saunders brushed the kerfuffle aside, confident that LaVine was not reacting in disappointment.
“No, I didn’t see it, but I doubt it because, when I talked to his agent, the whole time his agent said this is where he wanted to come and that it would be a great opportunity for him,” Saunders said.
Would the 19-year-old you have been any more poised?