DeMar DeRozan Explains How His Love Of Kobe Bryant Influences His Game

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DeMar DeRozan was a kid who grew up in Los Angeles in the late-90s and early part of this century, so it’s not a surprise that the dude loved Kobe Bryant. His game has always kind of resembled Kobe, and this year, he’s taken that to the next level: he’s averaging nearly 28 points per game while living at the charity stripe and doing most of his damage inside the three point line. In an interview with ESPN, DeRozan discussed the influence that Bryant had on his game, and even had this to say about the future Hall of Fame inductee.

“Kobe had an aura around him when he was on the court; he intimidated all of us. I was inside a video game. I’d watched him growing up. I watched Kobe do everything. His shot. His footwork. How he works in the post. Everything growing up was Kobe. I tried to emulate the tough shots he took, his pump fake. There’s nothing you can show me that Kobe has done on a court that I don’t know about or have tried. I practice almost all of them.”

DeRozan also discussed the work he put in this offseason to get to his stellar 2016-17 campaign. While with the USA Basketball team at the Rio Olympics this summer, DeRozan would wake up every day at 6 a.m., pass through a security checkpoint, and hop into a van with “two trainers, a cousin, a Raptors security official and an armed guard.”

Once he arrived at his destination – a gym in Rio, obviously – DeRozan would work for two to three hours while everyone else slept. It was a tough process, but DeRozan wants to be the next Kobe in a number of ways, so grinding like this is necessary. Plus DeRozan got insulted over the summer, as he explained when asked about his various spots on lists of the league’s top players.

After his second All-Star season and strong play in the deepest playoff push in Raptors history — he averaged 23 points a game and shot 50 percent from the field — DeRozan was stunned by where he was rated by major media outlets. ESPN’s #NBArank had DeRozan at 30th. The Washington Post ranked him 45th. Sports Illustrated had him at 46th.

“I think it’s B.S.” DeRozan said. “I’m willing to line up against anyone in the league, and it will be toe-to-toe until the end. I believe I’ve proved that. You put in so much work, it’s almost sickening. I watch everything, I read everything. I’ve always been a guy who wants to prove somebody wrong. I wouldn’t rub it in anyone’s face, but that’s my gratification. I’ve seen so many guys’ work ethic, and I know it doesn’t come close to what I’m putting myself through. When you see those rankings, it makes you want to go out and prove it.”

Listening to critics and trying to prove them wrong is a Kobe-esque move. DeRozan also said he wants to spend his entire career in one place, just like Bean.

(Via ESPN)