DeMar DeRozan and his late-career renaissance with the Chicago Bulls

DeMar DeRozan and his late-career renaissance with the Chicago Bulls

From methodically shooting postgame free throws to rattling off the chapters of adversity he has faced, the 13-year veteran is getting better with age.


THE STADIUM CREW has already begun to disassemble the United Center floor, turning the arena from a basketball court to a hockey rink following the Chicago Bulls' victory over the Orlando Magic. It's Jan. 3, and as they stack the courtside seats, remove the scorer's table and line the outside of the stands with hockey boards, DeMar DeRozan stands alone at the free throw line 30 minutes after the buzzer.

He's stewing. "S---," he yells, his voice echoing off the walls of the arena. Another miss.

DeRozan, who is shooting better than 85% from the line on the season, had an uncharacteristically poor night, finishing 7-for-13 and missing 4 of his 9 free throws in the second half, including three in the final 30 seconds. A few minutes earlier, DeRozan had grabbed Taurean Green, a Bulls player development coach, to head back to the court. On their way out, DeRozan was reminded the crew is flipping the court ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks' home game the next night.

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"Well, I'm going to shoot if I have to until all the floor is gone," DeRozan said.

Nevermind that the Bulls had just collected what was their eighth consecutive victory, or that in the two games prior, DeRozan had become the first player in NBA history to hit game-winning buzzer-beaters on consecutive nights.

As he stands at the line, the clangs of equipment being hauled off around him, he hears his father's voice booming in his head.

"My dad used to cuss me out when I missed free throws," DeRozan says after a Bulls practice a few days later. "He used to yell from the bleachers. He used to say it was a dollar every time I missed a free throw.

"The other night, the only thing on my mind is my f---king dad would kill me if he saw me miss this many free throws. That's why I take it so seriously."

And so back on the rapidly disintegrating floor, DeRozan, still in his home whites, shoots. And shoots. And shoots.