Behind the strong play of Zach LaVine, the Chicago Bulls have started the 2021-22 season an impressive 4-0. The last Bulls team to start 4-0 was the 1995-96 squad, which featured Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Chicago won 72 games that year and defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1996 Finals.
LaVine has never been to the playoffs since entering the NBA in 2014. This is a big season for the two-time Slam Dunk Champion, who not only has stellar talent around him to help him reach the postseason but also becomes an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
LaVine can’t afford to miss games this season, which is why he’s channeling his inner Jordan by playing through significant pain.
Zach LaVine has a ligament tear in his left thumb
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, LaVine has a small ligament tear in his left thumb. The All-Star underwent an MRI a day after the Bulls defeated the Toronto Raptors, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
LaVine played 35 minutes versus the Raptors. He finished with 22 points, four rebounds, and five assists while shooting 7-of-16 from the field and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. The Washington native is averaging 25.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists through the Bulls’ first four games.
During his Hall of Fame career, Jordan routinely played through pain. The six-time champion appeared in all 82 games nine times and only missed one game with Chicago after coming out of retirement in 1995. The only game Jordan missed from March 1995 to June 1998 was the Bulls’ sixth preseason contest in 1997-98. The UNC product had surgery on both feet to remove ingrown toenails.
It’s admirable that LaVine plans to play through his ligament tear. The Bulls face their toughest test of the young season in their fifth game against the New York Knicks, and they will certainly need LaVine to have a big performance.
Zach LaVine needs to destroy the Knicks like Michael Jordan did
The Knicks enter their contest against the Bulls at 3-1. New York is a rugged group led by Julius Randle, Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, and head coach Tom Thibodeau. Chicago will need to play well on both ends of the floor to beat the Knicks, who are averaging 118.8 points per game, good for third in the NBA.
In 12 career games against the Knicks, LaVine is averaging 21.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. However, he’s only 5-7. The shooting guard can become even more popular in Chicago if he goes off versus New York like Jordan used to do back in the day. MJ averaged 31.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 60 games against the Knicks and went 43-17. He also never lost to New York in the playoffs.
If LaVine can lead the Bulls to the playoffs and once again put up All-Star numbers, he will likely sign a lucrative contract in the summer of 2022. And by the looks of it, it appears Chicago has every intention of re-signing him.
Bulls and Young Hollywood reportedly love each other
According to Johnson, who covers the Bulls for NBC Sports Chicago, LaVine and the Bulls love working together and should be able to agree on a new contract once the season ends. The 26-year-old is making $19.5 million this season and has played his way into a massive pay raise.
Since arriving in Chicago, LaVine is averaging 24.5 points. He recently passed Jordan on the Bulls’ all-time 3-point field goals list.
The next step for LaVine is to lead the franchise to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The Bulls haven’t had a winning record since trading Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen in 2017.