Coming up straight out of Compton, California, in the 2000s, there was no other way for DeMar DeRozan to idolize anybody else than Kobe Bryant. Kobe was in his prime, winning numerous championships and becoming the hero of Los Angeles. Kobe heard about DeMar while he was still in high school and took him under his wing, growing respect for the young man. But when they faced on an NBA court, Bryant made sure to show his killer mentality after getting provoked.
Kobe's clutch display in Toronto
DeMar was playing pick-up games with Kobe since his high school days, and that immensely helped him prepare for the NBA in 2009, when he started his career in Toronto. DeRozan was slowly but surely becoming a star and the face of the franchise, displaying a smooth mid-range game with athleticism from the shooting guard position, reminiscing vastly of Kobe's game.
The two had some great battles during their stretch, with DeMar making sure to give his best against his idol and mentor. But Kobe and his "Mamba Mentality" wouldn't let anyone a bit of slack, making sure he reminds DeMar, who is the alpha dog. So on a particular game during DeMar's third season in 2012, Kobe sank his Raptors away with an impressive clutch display.
Kobe dropped 27 points, with a clutch steal, assist, and game-winning fadeaway from the baseline to seal the win for the Lakers, proving once again he is the master of the clutch. DeRozan had a horrible game on the other side of the floor, scoring only 8 points on 2-13 shooting to add insult to injury to Kobe's game-winning jumper.
Wrong shoes dawg
We all know Kobe doesn't need any extra motivation to go off, but DeRozan made a rookie mistake that ticked off Bryant enough to steal the game away from him. DeRozan was wearing Jordans because he didn't want to wear his opponent's shoes on that night, but that proved to be the wrong decision.
"I said I'm not wearing his shoes and playing against him tonight, so I wore Jordans. He said, 'the fuck you got those on for?' He was mad at me for doing that, and he ended up hitting the game-winner on us. Talking trash and everything. Never put another pair of Jordans on."
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Just like MJ did back in the day, Kobe took that personally. But it seems DeMar didn't have much of choice here. If he wore Kobe's, maybe he would have been seen as too much of a fan to actually compete with Bryant. Anyway, that must be the reason that DeMar, even to this day, often wears Kobe's when playing. The way he has been playing for the Bulls this year would definitely make Kobe proud of his prodigy.