Zach LaVine will earn over $40 million in the next NBA season. But the big reward for the 27-year-old basketball star will be becoming a father for the first time, an experience he is thrilled to share with his wife, Hunter.
“It will be a whole new experience for me,” LaVine told PEOPLE, noting that Hunter is due in a few weeks. “I think I can adapt, but you know, knowing it’s going to be more about [the baby] and my wife, and obviously my job has its demands.”
Last month, LaVine signed a max contract extension with the Chicago Bulls, which will net him $215.2 million over five years. To prepare for the new season, LaVine has partnered with Klarna to ensure he is ready for the demanding NBA schedule.
Although LaVine’s personal and professional promotions come with greater expectations, he is thrilled with the new challenges. “It will be fun adjusting the season,” LaVine says. “Now everything comes second and that’s what’s most important is making sure we start our family right, and making sure the baby is healthy, my wife is healthy. health, and that everything is on the right track, then basketball.”
With the birth of his first child on the horizon and a new NBA season soon after, LaVine tells PEOPLE he can’t wait to “be able to come home after good, bad, average games, whatever they are.” be, just to go home and be a daddy.”
LaVine posted impressive numbers last season with the Chicago basketball team, earning his third NBA All-Star selection. As he prepares for his first season as a player on a maximum contract, the shooter believes expectations are “pretty much the same” as in previous years. “I think that’s why you get the contract, you play for it and you’re worth what you’re worth,” he said.
The Bulls star assures fans that he is ready for the challenges he will face this season. “People really don’t have to worry about that part because I think for me, I have my own to-do list, checklists and things that I want to accomplish on my own- even,” LaVine says. “You know, I just keep going out there and playing the way I am, I’ve been, I keep trying to lead the team to wins and go further and further in the playoffs. playoffs.”
What will most likely change in LaVine’s routine, both on the road and at home, is the time spent playing video games – which he says is one of his favorite ways to “take your mind off basketball” before a game. “Not everyone can sit at home or sit on the road and watch a movie all day,” he shares.
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In fact, the NBA star is an active player. “I would be on LFG and people obviously wouldn’t know my name,” says LaVine, who refers to the online term “LFG,” which stands for Looking For Group. “I played with people who didn’t even know it was me playing,” admits LaVine. “You know, people ask, ‘Oh, what are you doing?’ and this and that… And sometimes I’ll lie. Sometimes I’ll be like, oh yeah, I played for the Chicago Bulls. My name is Zach LaVine. And they won’t believe me. It’s fun.”
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Video games have become a favorite pastime for athletes on the road, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the most competitive are Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker, Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro and baseball player Blake Snell, according to LaVine.
Snell in particular, who pitches for the San Diego Padres, is “probably the most competitive person I’ve ever seen with video games,” LaVine says. “All he’s doing is trying to yell at me, so it’s a fun time,” LaVine jokes. “So we’re having a good time talking a bit of rubbish back and forth about the game.”
The Bulls star mainly saves his competitive energy for the basketball court, where he admits “a little chatter here and there.” Ultimately though, LaVine believes actions speak louder than words.
“I’ll say garbage when it’s okay or like when someone says something to me,” he reveals. “I’m quite vocal on the pitch, I’m going to talk to my teammates. So I’m going to talk to people, although it’s not just about talking trash, but I’m not someone here who talks about rubbish to everyone. I let my game speak for itself.”
He will continue to let his game do the talking as he enters the 2022-23 NBA season on October 19.
LaVine explains, “I think I’m very authentic and I think that’s what the fans appreciate. I’m not someone who tries to be something that I’m not. Obviously, I think I I’m a very talented player and very confident with the work I’ve done.”
In the meantime, LaVine is focused on “learning as much as possible” as a dad-to-be, especially meeting the needs of his wife Hunter during the final weeks of her pregnancy. Currently, her duties are to satisfy her unusual cravings and offer back massages or foot massages.
“Happy wife, happy life,” laughs LaVine.