In a tell-all JJ Redick's Old Man and the Three podcast, DeMar DeRozan opened up about his struggles in San Antonio, where he spent three seasons, and how he felt like he was "wiped off the map." The All-Star shooting guard said he used that time of irrelevancy to fuel his play during his first year with the Chicago Bulls to regain his spot among the NBA's elite eventually.
All but forgotten in the Alamo
The San Antonio Spurs may be one of the most successful franchises in the NBA, but it was never the sexiest team to play for. They've had a few marquee free-agents throughout the years but mostly relied on developing talent and making smart trades. So when Demar DeRozan was traded to the Spurs in 2018, it was a bit of a shock.
After nine seasons with the Toronto Raptors, DeRozan was sent to San Antonio in a package deal that saw Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green go the other way. Although DeRozan still played solid basketball during his time with the Spurs, the team missed the playoffs two out of the three years he was there. Adding insult to injury, the national spotlight often eluded DeRozan and the Spurs; they did not have a single appearance on national TV during his final season in San Antonio.
"I felt like I was wiped off the map. That took a toll, especially after every single year going to the conference finals, conference semifinals, competing, winning 50-plus games, to all the sudden, you don't exist," DeRozan said.
"I just felt nonexistent for those years. It wasn't like we was on TV, we wasn't competing. There was so much to it that was a struggle. I just felt like I was irrelevant."
DeRozan's transfer to the Bulls was just what the doctor ordered. Playing in a much bigger market did wonders for Deebo as he put up career-high numbers across the board and was named to the All-Star and All-NBA teams. And suddenly, the three-year $81.9 million contract that many pundits were shaking their heads at didn't look so bad.
Now, all DeRozan can do is build off of his first year in Chicago. And all the individual accolades aside, there's only one thing on his mind -- bringing the championship back to Windy City.