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DeRozan offered a strong remake of former slam dunk champion J.R. Rider’s “East Bay funk dunk” by taking the ball through his legs in the air before jamming it. Somehow, he only received a score of 44. The Compton, California, kid was perfect on his second dunk, receiving a 50 after he threw the ball in the air, scooped it with his right hand, turned his back to the basket and finished with an acrobatic dunk. “I put a lot of thoughts into my dunks and executed them as planned,” DeRozan said. “Most definitely, I thought I did everything in my power to be in a position to win the event.”
Dwane CASEY: I already told Kyle and DeMar to get ready for the traps, every time they touch the ball I’m going to make sure we trap their butts. Kyle LOWRY: Hmmm, he’s been talking more [trash] than us. I ain’t listening. Let him talk. Let him talk. DeMar DEROZAN: I can’t wait for Sunday, every time I score I’m going to stare at the coaches for sure. All of them, every single one of them. I’m saying all types of stuff. Every time I score, I’m telling them “I told you all I’m a scorer.” I’m letting them have it.
Rex KALAMIAN: [Dwane Casey] gives me so much freedom defensively to be able to make changes and input different ideas and I’m very thankful for it…. It’s really cool because it puts a lot of responsibility in my hands. This summer we looked at our numbers defensively and he challenged me to come up with a few things that we needed to change. What could we do different to get our pick-and-roll coverage better? What could we do to get our three-point percentage down? I looked at a lot of film and came up with a few ideas that he was on board with. Nick NURSE: It’s a big deal. What’s happening here, what’s going into game plans, what’s happening on the court, what’s happening late in games, and it’s a big deal and for him to put as much trust as he does in us is really helpful. It’s really fun, but it’s really helpful.
Kyle LOWRY: [Dwane Casey is] a nice guy. You can’t explain it better than that. He’s genuinely a nice guy, that old-style southern gentleman. He’s just a nice f—ing man — does that make sense? At first, it’s like, “What’s going on?” It takes a while [to] just be like: “That’s it, that’s really him. That’s what he does. He really is nice.” That’s the best way I can explain it. He doesn’t have any animosity, he doesn’t hate anybody, he’s never mad. He [only] gets mad on the court, when he’s working.
It’s a nice, neat story in a town where storylines themselves are acts of commerce: the return of DeMar DeRozan. But while he’s humbled and honored to be starting in yet another All-Star Game, he’s not buying into the script. “I wouldn’t call it a homecoming,” he says.