Having grown up in Los Angeles, playing his high school ball in Compton and attending USC before being drafted by the Toronto Raptors, All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan spent a lot of time in his youth watching Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant play. DeRozan joined The Jim Rome Show on Thursday and said he now tries to emulate his game after him too.
“I watched every single move he ever worked on,” DeRozan said. “His counters to post ups, to double-teams, to getting off shots, making tough shots, fade away, everything, I tried to emulate and work on and put that in my package of game.”
Tomorrow night the Raptors host the Bryant-less Lakers for the first time, a game DeRozan says should be interesting.
“The Lakers are the Lakers at the end of today, but for the first time in 20 years in going out there and not feeling that energy of when Kobe walks out there, his demeanor, his presence, that dominate approach that he had once he stepped in the game, that’s something that can never be duplicated,” DeRozan said. “That’s definitely something that you’re going to feel that’s going to be missing tomorrow, so it’s definitely going to be different.”
This past off-season DeRozan had the opportunity to sign anywhere he wanted including Los Angeles, but the shooting guard again said Bryant’s influence weighed heavy on him.
“Being able to see Kobe leave the game with one team, having a full legacy of his own. Everything he did. Going down arguably as one of the greatest Lakers of all-time, that’s hard to come by in this league,” DeRozan said. “When you have the opportunity to take over a franchise and you can be that one person who did it all, for me that was something I was striving for.
“I grew up watching Vince [Carter] as well and being able to have the opportunity to pass Vince in so many categories and the wins category; so many things are so intriguing for me to want to continue to build on it.”
In a perfect world, DeRozan wants to leave his mark on the Toronto Raptors organization much like Bryant did with the Lakers.
“For somebody to do what Kobe did, it would have to take 20-plus years. That’s a lifetime investment, and that’s something that will forever be there,” DeRozan said. “Once you go somewhere else, you kind of got to start that over and chase other people that have been there for a longer time that you’re most likely not going to have the chance to put in to accomplish the things that person did, so I just want to have my own.”