DeMar DeRozan may have been born and raised in Compton, California, but the NBA star is a Canadian through and through. Since his 2009 debut with the Toronto Raptors, DeRozan has worked tirelessly to rep his team, his city, and the entire nation both on and off of the court. When DeMar isn't busy throwing down insane dunks, getting roasted by Will Ferrell and Drake, or posing for the cover of NBA 2K18, the five-time All-Star consistently reminds fans of his love for the Great White North.
Naturally, when Foot Locker prepped their latest initiative highlighting basketball's Canadian roots, it only made sense to link up with DeMar to bring the campaign to the next level. In early October, the sneaker retailer and Raptors guard ventured into Toronto's east end to learn more about the origins of the sport and its Canuck founder, Dr. James Naismith. It only took fetching a vintage ball out of peach baskets to quickly discover how much the game has evolved since 1891.
Before he stepped onto the court to officiate a retro game of pick-up, Complex Canada sat down with DeMar DeRozan to chat about the new Foot Locker series, original basketball, and his favourite pair of sneakers.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
I’ve been looking over some of these old school rules and I can only imagine how wild they seem to a modern-day basketball player.
It's cool to see how the game originally started, the original rules, and how far we’ve come. A lot of people don’t know that you couldn’t even dribble back then or run with the ball! So I’m looking forward to bringing it all to the forefront and to just have fun with it. At the same time, I want people to realize that it started here in Canada, because a lot of people might not know that.
We’re here for Foot Locker, so I want to know about your sneakers. We know what you’re going to wear on the court, but how about off of it?
Air Forces. I'm all for comfort, so I like the low tops, but I don’t care if it’s the Flyknit version or the all white. As far as new shoes go, I really like the Off-White collection. I have a few of those already but I gotta get more! I need the Off-White Prestos, 97s, Blazers, all of them.
It’s recently come to light that the league is reworking this year’s All-Star Game. What are your thoughts on the potential new format?
Honestly, I really have no clue! [laughs] I have no clue how it’s going to work and I’d be lying to you if I said “it’s cool” or “I don’t like it”. We’ll figure it out when the time comes, but for now, we’re all wondering what’s going on.
But let’s say you were an All-Star captain and had the ability to draft a team. Who is your starting five?
Including myself? So I have to pick four other people? Man, I don’t know, I don’t want to get in trouble and leave anybody out! [laughs]
Anybody that knows you, knows that you’re a big music fan. What are you listening to lately?
Still listening to Kendrick, that’s one of my favourites for sure. I’ve also been listening to the new Kevin Gates project a lot...a lot.
Are you the one who picks the pre-game playlist in the locker room?
Nah, I like to keep my music to myself. I always have my headphones on because I like to choose my music depending on the vibe I have for the day.
Is there a teammate that you dread when they get a hold of the aux cord?
Kyle (Lowry) is pretty terrible. He’s not hip, he listens to a lot of old school rap. I mean, I’m a fan of that genre, but that’s all Kyle listens to. He couldn’t name three new rappers if he tried.
You’ve been in Toronto for close to a decade now. What was your perception of Canada when you first landed and how has it changed since you've lived here?
When I first got to Toronto, all I knew was Vince (Carter) and the purple jerseys. Vince was one of my favourite players growing up. But when I came here, I got a sense of the diversity and the city’s unique style. To be here all of my adult life has definitely been a blessing. I'm happy to be here and I want to keep growing and continue building on what I've done in Toronto so far.