Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan embraces ‘tough route’ in Chicago

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DeMar DeRozan embraces ‘tough route’ with Bulls originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

DeMar DeRozan never wanted the easy route.

That sentiment applied in high school. It applied when he was first drafted to the NBA. And it applied to his first true free agency as a professional, when he signed with the Chicago Bulls.

In an appearance on the No Studio’N Network, DeRozan explained the common thread that has permeated each of those three checkpoints in his basketball life.

“The program ain’t been nothing, this was an opportunity just to put them back on the map. It was just me thinking overly ambitious at a young age,” DeRozan said of the decision to go to Compton High, where he blossomed into a top-ranked recruit and led the school to two Moore League championships.

“The same mentality I had staying at home, go to Compton High, it flipped, same s*** with the league. Like, alright, cool. All that other s*** look glamorous to go here, but they’re already established,” DeRozan said of being drafted by the Raptors, with whom he eventually made four All-Star appearances and an Eastern Conference finals. “Let me go here (Toronto) and see if I can leave a mark here.”

And of joining the Bulls: “Looking at Chicago, it was one of those — another opportunity. To where it’s like, ‘Yo, we can make something shake. This s*** be bigger’…  You know what I mean? It (could) be bigger than what anybody expecting. 

“And that’s what you kinda live for, you know what I mean? Like, you don’t want the easy route or the expected route. Give me the tough route. Let me make this s*** look easy.”

As evidenced by the Michael Jordan-led dynasty in the 1990s, winning in Chicago can offer a one-of-a-kind payoff. But success has eluded the franchise in recent years; they enter the 2021-22 campaign with the third-longest active playoff drought in the NBA (four seasons), and haven’t finished above-.500 since 2015-16.

So, DeRozan, and the rest of the organization, has their work cut out for them. The good news for Bulls fans is he appears more than ready to embrace it.

RELATED: Why DeMar DeRozan isn't worried about 'fit' with Bulls

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