DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors is a huge Kobe Bryant fan. The Compton native was a Los Angeles Lakers diehard growing up and idolized the five-time NBA champion as he worked his way up to the NBA level from USC to the undisputed leader of the Raptors franchise.
In a recent interview with DeAntae Prince of Sports Illustrated’s The Crossover, DeRozan talked about what his favorite Kobe moment was during the future Hall of Famer’s 20-year career in the NBA. Ironically enough, it came against his Toronto Raptors back in 2006:
DP: If I’m not mistaken, you said Kobe’s 81-point game was your favorite moment of his career. That’s an interesting choice for a member of the Raptors.
DD: Yeah, it’s pretty funny. I remember watching that game and jumping up on the bed going crazy. I didn’t watch the highlight, I didn’t see it the next day. I vividly remember watching the game until the last second on the clock ran out. People thing he just ran off 80 points, but the Lakers were losing by like 20 that game and Kobe willed his way back into it. For me to be able to witness that was crazy.
Although it was against DeRozan’s current team, many Kobe fans have his 81-point game at the top of their list of favorite moments from the former face of the Lakers franchise. The same probably can’t be said for Jalen Rose or Chris Bosh, but DeRozan obviously wasn’t on the team at the time to feel the wrath of Bryant firsthand.
As for DeRozan and his career, the Raptors star is definitely on the rise after he inked a new deal with Toronto last summer. DeRozan took his game to another level during the 2016-17 NBA season averaging a career-high 27.3 points per game to go along with a career-high 5.2 rebounds per contest for the Raptors.
DeRozan has a long way to go to match Bryant’s numbers, but it is clear the former Lakers superstar has left a lasting impression on the Los Angeles native as he’s quickly become one of the best shooting guards in the game.