DeMar DeRozan is named a starter for the NBA All-Star Game — he’s the 1st Chicago Bulls player to earn the honor since 2017

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·3 min read
Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS
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As the Chicago Bulls touched down in San Antonio after a series of flight delays Thursday night, guard Zach LaVine wrangled the handset for the intercom at the front of the plane.

“Attention, attention, attention. This is your captain speaking from Flight 8, Flight Lavine,” the guard said, voice crackling while waking coaches and players throughout the flight. “We’re heading on our way to San Antonio with the big announcement of our boy DeMar DeRozan with his fifth All-Star selection this year.”

DeRozan still isn’t certain how LaVine figured out the intercom, which woke half of the coaches and players scattered throughout the plane. The news wasn’t necessarily a surprise for the Bulls or DeRozan — who will join a starting lineup alongside LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo — but it marked a celebratory turning point between the expectations and reality of DeRozan’s immediate impact on the Bulls.

After icing fourth quarters and nailing back-to-back buzzer beaters to lift the team to second in the Eastern Conference, DeRozan leads the Bulls with 26.4 points and 4.8 assists per game. His lethal midrange shooting has been a key this season while his leadership paves the path for the development of younger players.

News of the Bulls’ acquisition of DeRozan was immediately met with skepticism and criticism throughout the league. The doubts were widespread: Was DeRozan too old? Could he play with Lavine? Or with the Bulls as a whole?

DeRozan said those vocal detractors only served as motivation for his debut season in Chicago.

“It’s always motivation,” DeRozan said. “We always strive for some type of motivation from the naysayers to the doubters. I let what I do on a court speak for itself when it comes to that, but in the same token, I use hate, whatever you want to call it. It’s free energy, you know? I strive on it, whatever mental edge I could gain from people saying what can’t happen or I’m not this, that or there. You always use that at some type of motivation.”

DeRozan is the first Bulls player to be named an All-Star Game starter since Jimmy Butler in 2017.

DeRozan previously earned All-Star honors while playing for the Toronto Raptors in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018. He led the Raptors to the playoffs each of those seasons, making the All-NBA Third Team in 2017 and All-NBA Second Team in 2018.

The Bulls have plenty of stakes left in the All-Star selection process. LaVine, a 2021 All-Star reserve, was a close competitor to earn a starting spot in the East backcourt, and the guard still is expected to earn a spot.

Young outscored LaVine in fan and media votes, which account for 75% of the formula to name the starting lineup. But LaVine won the final category — his fellow players, who voted LaVine second only after DeRozan.

Reserves will be announced Feb. 3.

“I felt Zach should’ve been in there as well,” DeRozan said. “You see it from the players’ reaction. Nothing against Trae at all, but that would’ve been dope to have the both of us in there as starters. ... No question he’ll be in there next week.”

Rookie Ayo Dosunmu could be named to the Rising Stars tournament, which features rookies, second-year players and G-League standouts.

The 2022 All-Star Game will take place Feb. 20 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

2022 NBA All-Star Game starting lineup

Western Conference

Eastern Conference