Thursday, February 22

DeMar DeRozan faced his ‘toughest’ times while in a Spurs jersey

San Antonio will welcome back former Spurs player DeMar DeRozan on Friday for the first time since the All-Star started joined the Chicago Bulls in an off-season sign-and-trade agreement last August. Local respect is growing for DeRozan ahead of his return following the release of a candid sit down with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks. In the conversation, the Bulls player reveals the emotionally exhausting off-court schedule he maintained while playing for the Spurs and spending as much time as possible with his dying father.

He tells Rooks that he’d fly between Los Angeles and wherever the Spurs were playing to hang out with his father Frank who battled a kidney condition. He says in the three years leading up to his dad’s February 2021 death, there were “countless times” that he would fly in on game days. DeRozan says the idle time on the plane gave him too much time to think about his dad’s condition and intensified the emotional trauma. He says stepping off the plane and immediately playing in front of 20,000 people was one of the “hardest” things he’s ever done.

“It was like an emotional roller coaster that I dealt with for three years because that was one of the toughest things ever because I never wanted to be a distraction to my teammates, to the game or nothing,” DeRozan tells Rooks. “I dealt with everything I dealt with personally. I didn’t want to be loud about it, I didn’t want nobody to necessarily feel sorry for me, but I wanted to be there for my teammates and my family. So to carry those emotions continuously behind the scenes and nobody knew — it was tough.”

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DeRozan went on to say that basketball was an outlet from what he was dealing with away from the court. This isn’t the first time the Bulls star has spoken out about his personal struggles with depression. He’s been a league advocate for mental health, sharing his experiences on the NBA Instagram and opening up to fans on his own platforms. In May 2021, while he was still a Spurs player, he was featured in Oprah’s docuseries “The Me You Can’t See” and discussed his mental health.

Before sharing his experiences with Rooks, outlets in Toronto and ClutchPoints reported on DeRozan’s red-eye flights. The new interview is giving the sports world the opportunity to hear about the struggles DeRozan has carried throughout his career directly from him. Spurs fans are reacting to the interview with continued support for DeRozan.

“More respect to him,” Twitter user @sofargoneee’s reply says. “Literally gave it his all while playing for the @Spurs.”

“He’s still a Spur forever what a man,” a tweet by @honestBoi7 reads. “Go get a ship Demar.”

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Others can’t wait to see how the AT&T Center receives DeRozan.

“Going to the game tomorrow,” @eli_arredondo21 says online. “Spurs fans bout to give this man his love & appreciation he deserves.”

DeRozan will meet up with his former teammates as the Spurs tip off against the Bulls on Friday at 7:30 pm Spurs Sports and Entertainment, the group that manages the team and the AT&T Center, tells MySA a DeRozan tribute video is in the works and the Spurs Coyote might have some “antics” to celebrate his return.

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