Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan discussed a variety of topics during media session prior to Team USA’s practice at Chicago’s United Center on Thursday.
I asked DeRozan if he wished he had successfully thrown down this 360 slam:
Yoooooo if DeRozan would have finished this!!!! #USABMNT https://t.co/QxBIwKPTdN
— NBA On Def Pen (@NBAOnDefPen) July 27, 2016
DeRozan says that hasn’t been thinking about this dunk anywhere near as much as the rest of the basketball world has. He’s okay with the fact that he missed the dunk: “Everything happens for a reason,” was DeRozan’s response. “If it was meant to be made, it would have been… We were just going out there, being competitive, having fun at the same time, and it was just a reaction. I really haven’t put too much thought into it.”
“We need to go out there and try to keep that underdog mentality,” DeRozan said when asked about his thoughts on the Raptors’ upcoming season. “Go out there and build on what we had last year, and just try to be better.”
DeRozan was asked about the stress of free agency: “It sucks because you gain so much interest from all the teams around the league,” DeRozan said. “You got everybody pulling at you, trying to give you a reason to come to their team, and it’s tough. Especially when you’ve been with one team for so long, you feel like you mold into that one team, that community. It’s tough.”
The main team that drew DeRozan’s interest in free agency was his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers. DeRozan described joining the Lakers as an “intriguing” option. DeRozan, who grew up a Lakers fans, said that he was glad “just to have that option” of going home, and that it was a difficult decision. “It was tough, but at the same time, I know what I created in Toronto, and it was something I wanted to continue building.”
DeRozan believes that the Eastern conference “got a lot stronger” this offseason. “You know the East was a lot better last year, and I think it got even [better] this year.” DeRozan is a competitor, and will enjoy the challenge of taking on a tougher conference: “That’s the beauty [of] the NBA. You just want to see all the teams being competitive. You want to go into a season where you look at the standings and you don’t know where a team will land.”
The Raptors’ backcourt — Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, noticably struggled shooting the ball in this year’s postseason. DeRozan emphasized that playoff basketball is nothing like the regular season: “I don’t care who you are, your shooting percentage is going to drop,” DeRozan said. Every posession matters, every possession counts. You’re not going to get anything easy. It’s a fight, and that’s the beauty of the playoffs. It’s not going to be pretty, and that’s what you’ve got to love about it, because it’s a dog fight.”
When asked how he kept the the pressure of missing shots he normally makes from distracting him, DeRozan said: “You can’t let it get to you. You can’t let outside media get to you. You can’t let [any of those] things deter you from what you’ve been working hard for. It’s the beauty of playing basketball, is taking that challenge,” DeRozan concluded.
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