DeMar DeRozan met the question with a laugh.
“No, I can’t,” he told reporters after the Chicago Bulls’ 107-104 loss to the Miami Heat when asked if he could put into words his bond with Kyle Lowry.
Then, after a pause for reflection:
“If my mom had another son, it’d be Kyle. If his mom had another son, it’d be me. That’s as simple as I can put it,” he said. “That’s how close we are.”
Indeed, DeRozan and Lowry forged a fraternal connection during their six shared seasons in Toronto, which featured four All-Star appearances apiece, 297 regular-season wins, and that franchise’s first Eastern Conference finals berth.
The trade that sent DeRozan to the Spurs as part of the package for Kawhi Leonard made them adversaries on the court, but never disturbed their bond off of it. Lowry says he and DeRozan still talk every day. The love between them was apparent before Saturday’s face-off at the United Center, where the two shared an embrace and several laughs while teammates took pregame warmups around them.
“He’s like a big brother to me, and vice versa, I’m like a big brother to him, even though he’s older,” DeRozan chided. “That’s just my man.”
Each finds themselves in fresh basketball homes for the 2021-22 season. Lowry signed with Miami on a three-year, $85 million contract as part of a sign-and-trade with Toronto during last offseason’s free-agency period; DeRozan inked to the Bulls for a nearly-identical three years, $82 million as part of a sign-and-trade from San Antonio.
After Saturday’s result, the Heat sit 13-7, second in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls, 13-8, dwell half a game behind. Much of the latter’s early-season expectation smashing is owed to DeRozan, who has thrust himself into the MVP conversation by averaging 25.8 points (sixth in the league) through 21 games.
“He’s in a great place. He’s leading these young guys how to win and close out games,” Lowry said of DeRozan, “and he’s showing the world that he’s still really, really talented at basketball.
“As a friend I’m always happy to see his success, but I’m always even happier when we beat him.”
That Lowry did on Saturday. The two meet on the court again Dec. 11 in Miami, but best believe they’ll be in contact sooner than that.