Don’t look now but Chicago Bulls star wing DeMar DeRozan is just 24 points away from 20,000 in his career – he would be the 50th player in NBA history to do so. One does not achieve such a lofty mark without a combination of talent and a strong work ethic.
It also means that player has been around for some time and has witnessed the inner workings of an NBA locker room or two.
DeRozan certainly has his fair share of stories to tell.
But one thing he won’t do is pass judgment on a situation in which he is not privy to all of the details. That is a message he passed along regarding the recent dust-up between Golden State Warriors stars Draymond Green and Jordan Poole, “we don’t know what happened, what was said”.
DeRozan: Fights Not Uncommon
The Bulls’ five-time All-Star sat down with David Aldridge of The Athletic to discuss a wide array of topics spanning his 13-year NBA career. In all that time – like an eternity with the average NBA career lasting roughly 4.5 years – DeRozan has seen a thing or two.
Some of them have been altercations that have gotten physical.
“A lot of times when I’ve been around that, you come back even better,” DeRozan told Aldridge. “Especially when the guys understand what was at hand. So, for me, I definitely look at it from a different light. It just sucks that the perception got out there, and people look at it however they want to look at it. But it’s nothing that’s uncommon. Not saying it happens all the time, or I’m not saying it’s the right (way) to go about it. But when you’re dealing with the ultimate competitors in our league, things are going to happen.”
Green spent time away from the team after video footage emerged of him approaching and then punching Poole during a closed practice.
There was speculation that the latter’s four-year, $140 million contract was at the heart of the issue. Green, who is in the final year of his contract with the Warriors and is unlikely to get the max deal he seeks, said he was in a “very bad space mentally”.
DeRozan, who was drafted by the Toronto Raptors and spent three years with the San Antonio Spurs, is always good for a solid analogy when explaining basketball in terms of everyday life.
He had another for Green and Poole comparing the team dynamic to family.
“I got in plenty of fights with my cousins at a young age, playing video games and getting in fistfights in the house, breaking my grandma’s dining room table. You know what I mean? And it’s like, you figure it out; you’re cousins, shake hands. And two weeks later, we’re doing the same thing. That’s what families do. It sucks that everybody puts their opinions on it, but it happens.”
Bulls Family Values
DeRozan rejected Green’s attempts to recruit him and has spoken of feeling irrelevant while in San Antonio, though he is grateful to have learned under Gregg Popovich. And, of course, he had to watch the Raptors win a championship right after trading him away.
But, with the Bulls, DeRozan has been revitalized as evidenced by his resurgence to mid-season MVP candidacy last year.
He says the Bulls have their disagreements but have more productive ways of settling them.
“I just feel like we have a determined group that’s willing to go out there and do whatever it takes to win. We’re definitely building the habits. You see it every single day in practice. Every single day, we’re getting better and better. And even when guys make mistakes, or something ain’t right, we’re on it — do it again, let’s get it right, talk it out. You kind of have that conflict of a conversation to try and figure it out. Instead of last year, when it was like, letting it go by the wayside, and when you hit the wall, it’s like, what do we do now? Having that element this time around is definitely going to go a long way.”
DeRozan spoke of everyone in this group having a chip on their shoulder, something surely aided by all of the preemptive obituaries on their season this offseason.
Now comes the hard part – proving the doubters wrong again.