DeMar DeRozan never takes moments like Sunday night for granted.
So while some may see the NBA All-Star Game as a glitzy exhibition, DeRozan sees the event as the realization of a dream.
“Everything I've accomplished, I still to this moment don't believe it,” DeRozan said the night he earned his sixth All-Star selection and second straight since coming to the Chicago Bulls. “I grew up a fan of this game way before it was even possible for me to be in this position. So for me, it's a dream.”
This has been quite the season when it comes to milestones for DeRozan. He passed the 20,000-point mark early in the season and recently played in his 1,000th game.
Whatever the personal achievement, he reacts with the consistent mix of humility and perspective.
“It's a lot of stuff I still don't believe that I've accomplished being from Compton, California, being through all the stuff I've been through, personal, career-wise,” DeRozan said earlier this month. “I just hope anybody out there, whatever field you work in, never listen to outside noise of people doubting you, counting you out. As long as you're true to yourself, believe in yourself, you keep putting in the work with a genuine heart and genuine passion, you'll be rewarded."
For the first time, the NBA moved the captains’ draft to a live setting on the night of the game. LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo took the stage, and Antetokounmpo selected DeRozan fourth overall from the reserve pool.
The Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks played the last night before the All-Star break at the United Center, a game that DeRozan missed with a thigh strain and Antetokounmpo left early with a sprained right wrist.
Antetokounmpo took the court for a largely ceremonial appearance, scoring on an uncontested dunk on the game’s first possession before purposely fouling Luka Doncic to stop the clock and exit.
Meanwhile, DeRozan sank his first three shots and finished with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting in the largely defense-optional affair. Boston Celtics' star Jayson Tatum scored an All-Star game record 55 points and earned the night's most valuable player honors.
That DeRozan played is a good sign for his return when the Bulls begin their 23-game stretch run with a Friday home game against the Brooklyn Nets. DeRozan missed the final two games before the All-Star break with his thigh strain, which an MRI exam confirmed.
Before DeRozan underwent the MRI, he revealed that he had been playing with soreness for six weeks. He missed three games in January with the injury.
“It's just been tough to get explosion on a lot of my shots, just dealing with the discomfort and the pain,” DeRozan said last week. “Ain't no excuse for me. I'm going to figure it out one way or another. It's going to come."
It needs to if the Bulls, who have lost six straight, are going to make a playoff run.