Bulls have tarnished Chicago basketball, and no help is coming this weekend

The hope at the start of the season was that the Bulls would play the perfect host to All-Star festivities this weekend, letting the world see the essence of Chicago basketball. Call it a big fail.

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The Bulls’ presence at All-Star Weekend will be limited to Zach LaVine in the three-point contest.

The Bulls’ presence at All-Star Weekend will be limited to Zach LaVine in the three-point contest.

Frank Franklin II/AP

Far too often lately, it has become easy to forget what Chicago basketball is.

Not Bulls basketball, mind you. No, we’re talking about the essence of Chicago basketball and what it means to the city, given the players it always has produced.

The hope at the start of the NBA season was that the All-Star Game and accompanying festivities this weekend would strip away some of the muck the Bulls have built on the window. But even that is in jeopardy now.

The Bulls have only themselves to blame. None of their players was good enough in the eyes of the fans and coaches to make the All-Star Game, only Wendell Carter Jr. was good enough to be picked for the Rising Stars game Friday — and he’s out with a right ankle injury — and some would argue that Zach LaVine chose the wrong contest to compete in Saturday.

Just don’t try selling LaVine on that.

Yes, he already has won the dunk contest twice (2015 and 2016), but what a story it would have been for the hometown fans to see LaVine come back after having knee surgery three years ago and reclaim the throne.

Instead, LaVine has been practicing on the racks in an effort to figure out the intricacies of the three-point contest.

‘‘Yeah, I’ve done it a couple of times,’’ LaVine said when he was asked how much practice time he has been getting in leading up to the weekend. ‘‘Just get my timing down with the racks. Just like anything else, just practice the routine. Hopefully you get in a rhythm and, you know, come home with a trophy.’’

If he prevails, LaVine would be the first player in NBA history to capture the dunk and three-point-shooting contests — a feat that would open some more eyes to the evolution of his game.

‘‘If people think I’m just a high-flyer still, I think they’re just a casual NBA fan that just checks their phone and stuff, so I ain’t really doing it for them,’’ said LaVine, who is shooting 38.5 percent from three-point range this season. ‘‘It’s something I haven’t done before, obviously. I think it’s going to be fun, and I think I have a chance to win.’’

Considering the rest of the field, it won’t be easy. But LaVine is all Chicago has this weekend.

There was some hope when the Heat’s Tyler Herro withdrew from the Rising Stars game that Bulls rookie Coby White might replace him, but the slot went to the Cavaliers’ Collin Sexton instead.

The decision angered the Bulls, who already were feeling ignored by the league.

‘‘I don’t understand that situation,’’ Bulls coach Jim Boylen said of the Rising Stars news. ‘‘Yeah, I really don’t have a good answer for you. Would I like to see [White] in that game? Of course, I would. And do I think he’s deserving of playing in that game? Of course, I do. He’s not, so we’re going to move on and coach him.’’

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