But the 27-year-old from Compton, Calif., never thought he would grace the cover of a video game.
“It was always a dream of mine, when I was a kid and (would) create myself in the game. Let alone now being an NBA player, being a part of the game now,” he said. “It’s just an honour to be on the cover, representing, giving my fans in Canada … It’s definitely a cool thing and I’m definitely appreciative to be a part of it.”
DeRozan will be the Canadian cover athlete for “NBA 2K18,” due out in September.
Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers will grace the cover outside of Canada with Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal featured on two special versions of the game: the Legend Edition and Legend Gold.
DeRozan has long been an avid gamer.
“That’s all I did growing up is play video games, trying to play every new game that came out,” he said. “Now I kind of stick to the basics, just playing ‘Madden’ and ‘2K.’ Now to be on the cover of ‘2K’ makes it even better.”
Former Raptor Terrence Ross, now with the Orlando Magic, was one of DeRozan’s gaming partners in Toronto.
“He kept me up on a lot of the new games, so he kind of kept me young when it came to that,” said DeRozan.
The Raptors guard said he has some skills once he gets a chance to invest some hours into a game.
“‘Madden’ was one of my go-to games that I was pretty good at. Boxing, golf. But once I lock in and play for a couple of days I get pretty good at it.”
DeRozan also marvels at the realism of today’s video games.
“it’s crazy. Now you can play 2K and you can hear your favourite player’s voice giving an interview,” he said.
DeRozan also likes the constant game updates, which add to the realism.
“I just try to do everything that I don’t do in a game, just have fun with it,” he said.
The cover choice is timely for the Raptors, who are one of 17 NBA teams hoping to win on the virtual basketball court as well as the real one in 2018.
The NBA 2K esports league will feature elite gamers who will control their own avatar — rather than NBA players — in a five-on-five game.
The virtual season will run for about three months with the debut campaign targeted to kick off around the all-star break in February next season.
DeMar Darnell DeRozan (born August 7, 1989) is an American professional basketball player for the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for USC and was selected ninth overall by the Raptors in the 2009 NBA draft. In 2017, he was named an NBA All-Star for the third time in four years, and was named an All-NBA Team member. DeRozan has played for the United States men’s national basketball team in two major tournaments: the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
 As the fourth contestant in the 2010 Sprite Slam Dunk Competition, DeRozan lost in the final round against three-time champion Nate Robinson. The final percentage was 51% to 49%. DeRozan was selected to compete for the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk Competition as a replacement for injured guard Brandon Jennings. He finished in third place.On July 9, 2009, DeRozan signed his rookie scale contract with the Raptors.
On December 31, 2010, DeRozan scored a then career-high 37 points against the Houston Rockets. He matched that career high two more times over the next three years—against the Utah Jazz on November 12, 2012, and against the Chicago Bulls on November 15, 2013.
On January 22, 2014, DeRozan scored a then career-high 40 points against the Dallas Mavericks, shooting 15-of-22 from the field. On January 30, DeRozan was selected for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game as a reserve guard for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. He finished the game with 8 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 15 minutes. On February 1, he recorded a 36 points and a career-high 12 assists in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. On March 28, he led the Raptors to a playoff berth for the first time since 2008, with a victory over the Boston Celtics. He scored 30 points in the win, along with 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal. On April 13, he scored 30 points against the Detroit Pistons to lead the Raptors to tie a franchise record of 47 wins.
DeRozan’s 2013–14 season was a breakout year, averaging career-highs of 22.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 30% from beyond the arc, and finished fourth in total free-throws made and seventh in attempts. He led the Raptors to a 48–34 record and a third-seed finish in the Eastern Conference.
In DeRozan’s first playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets on April 19, 2014, DeRozan scored 14 points on a 3-of-13 shooting as the game resulted in a loss. In Game 2, DeRozan bounced back and scored 30 points on 9-of-21 shooting in a 100–95 win. On April 25, he recorded 30 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in a loss. That 30-point game made DeRozan the first Raptor to score 30 points in back-to-back playoffs games, and the first Raptor to score 30 in multiple playoff games since Vince Carter. The Raptors went on to lose to the Nets in seven games.
On November 29, 2014, he was ruled out indefinitely with a torn left adductor longus tendon. He sustained the injury the night before at the 8:23 mark of the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks and did not return. On January 14, 2015, he returned to action, scoring 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting in a 100–84 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. On March 2, he scored a season-high 35 points in a 114–103 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. On March 30, DeRozan scored a career-high 42 points in a 99–96 win over the Houston Rockets. On April 17, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for April, joining Kyle Lowry (December 2014) and Chris Bosh (January 2007) as the only players in team history to be named Player of the Month.In the Raptors’ season opening game of the 2014–15 season against the Atlanta Hawks in Toronto, DeRozan recorded career-highs with 11 rebounds and six steals, along with 15 points, in a 109–102 win.
On April 24, in Game 3 of the Raptors’ first-round playoff series with the Washington Wizards, DeRozan scored a playoff career-high 32 points while scoring a franchise playoff-record 20 points in the first quarter, surpassing Vince Carter‘s previous record of 19 points in a first quarter of a playoff game.
On November 10, 2015, DeRozan scored a then season-high 29 points in a loss to the New York Knicks. Reaching the 15-point mark for the eighth straight game to start the season, he became the first Raptor since Chris Bosh in 2009–10 to accomplish the feat. On December 14, DeRozan was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played December 7–13, earning the honor for the first time in his seven-year career and became the seventh player in team history to be named Player of the Week. On January 8, he scored a then season-high 35 points in a 97–88 win over the Washington Wizards. On January 28, he was named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, earning his second All-Star nod in three years.
Kyle Lowry were selected as co-winners for Eastern Conference Player of the Month for January. The pair helped the Raptors go 12–2 during the month and recorded a franchise-record 11-game win streak. On February 22, he became the winningest player in Raptors history, passing Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson with his 233rd career win. With 22 points, he helped the Raptors defeat the New York Knicks 122–95. On March 4, he scored a season-high 38 points in a 117–115 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. In that game, he set an NBA record with 24 consecutive free throws made in one game. On March 12, he tied his season-high of 38 points while also recording 10 rebounds and seven assists in a 112–104 overtime win over the Miami Heat. On March 30, he scored 26 points in a 105–97 win over the Atlanta Hawks, helping the Raptors record a 50-win season for the first time in franchise history. On April 10, he scored 27 points in a 93–89 win over the New York Knicks in New York, setting a franchise record with 23 road victories in a season. DeRozan also moved ahead of Vince Carter for second on the Raptors’ career scoring list, trailing only Chris Bosh.On February 2, DeRozan and teammate
The Raptors finished the regular season as the second seed in the Eastern Conference with a 56–26 record. In the first round of the playoffs, the Raptors faced the seventh-seeded Indiana Pacers, and in a Game 5 win on April 26, DeRozan scored 34 points to help the Raptors take a 3–2 series lead. In Game 7 of the series, DeRozan scored 30 points to help the Raptors win a best-of-seven series for the first time in franchise history. With a 4–3 series victory over the Pacers, the Raptors moved on to the second round to face the Miami Heat. In Game 5 of the Raptors’ series with the Heat, DeRozan again scored 34 points to help the Raptors take a 3–2 series lead with a 99–91 win. In Game 7 of the series, he scored 28 points in a 116–89 win over the Heat, helping the Raptors advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history. In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, DeRozan scored 32 points to help the Raptors win 105–99 and tie the series at 2–2. The Raptors went on to lose the next two games to bow out of the playoffs with a 4–2 defeat.
On July 14, 2016, DeRozan re-signed with the Raptors to a five-year, $139 million contract. In the Raptors’ season opener on October 26, 2016, DeRozan had his third career 40-point outing in a 109–91 win over the Detroit Pistons. Two days later, he had a 32-point effort in a 94–91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. DeRozan’s combined 72 points bested Vince Carter‘s franchise record of 65 for the most points through the first two games of a season, set in the 2003–04 season. With a 33-point effort on October 31 against the Denver Nuggets, DeRozan became the first ever Raptor with three straight 30-point games to begin a season. With 40 points against the Washington Wizards on November 2, DeRozan tied Mike James‘ franchise record with four consecutive 30-point games. He passed that mark two days later, scoring 34 points in a 96–87 win over the Miami Heat. His five straight 30-point games set the best such start to a season since Michael Jordan did it for six straight games to open the 1986–87 season. On November 12, he scored 33 points against the New York Knicksfor his eighth 30-point game in nine games, becoming only the fourth player to register 30-plus points in eight of the first nine games of a season, joining Michael Jordan, World B. Free and Tiny Archibald. DeRozan was subsequently named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, November 7 through Sunday, November 13. With 34 points against the Golden State Warriors on November 16, DeRozan became the first NBA player with nine 30-point games in his team’s first 11 games since Jordan in 1987–88. DeRozan’s six field goals against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 2 saw him pass Vince Carter (3,536) for second on the franchise’s all-time list; Chris Bosh still led at the time with 3,614. On December 19, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, December 12 through Sunday, December 18. On December 28, he scored 29 points against Golden State and became Toronto’s career scoring leader (10,290), passing Chris Bosh‘s 10,275 points.
Houston Rockets, setting a career high with his 18th 30-plus-point game of the season. Two days later, he recorded a season-high 41 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in a 114–106 win over the Boston Celtics. On January 19, DeRozan was named a starter on the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, becoming the fourth Raptors player to be named a starter after Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Kyle Lowry. On February 6, 2017, after missing seven of the team’s previous eight games with a sprained ankle, DeRozan shot 50 percent from the field and put up 31 points in a 118–109 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.On January 8, 2017, DeRozan scored 36 points in a 129–122 loss to the
On February 24, he scored a career-high 43 points to help the Raptors rally from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107–97. DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015. After scoring 42 points against Chicago on March 21, DeRozan scored 40 points against Miami two days later, thus registering back-to-back 40-point games for the first time in his career. On March 27, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, March 20 through Sunday, March 26. On March 31, he scored 40 points in a 111–100 win over the Indiana Pacers. It was DeRozan’s seventh 40-point game of the season and 30th game of 30 points or more, tying Vince Carter’s 2000–01 franchise mark. With 38 points against Miami on April 7, DeRozan broke Carter’s franchise record with his 31st 30-point game of the season. On April 9, DeRozan shot 11-for-15 from the field for 35 points against the New York Knicks and became the second player in franchise history with a 2,000-point season—Carter scored 2,107 in 1999–00 and 2,070 in 2000–01. The win over the Knicks was the Raptors’ 50th of the season and helped them lock up at least the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. DeRozan finished the season with a career-high 2,020 points, while his 27.3 average marked the second highest in franchise history—Carter averaged 27.6 in 2000–01.
On April 27, 2017, DeRozan scored 32 points in a 92–89 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, helping the Raptors take their first-round playoff series in six games. The Raptors went on to lose in a clean sweep to the Cavaliers in the second round. DeRozan appeared in all 10 playoff games, averaging 22.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game. On May 18, 2017, DeRozan was named in the All-NBA Third Team for the first time in his career.
- 2006 All-Moore League First Team
- 2007 All-Moore League First Team
- 2007 Named to the Los Angeles Times First Team
- 2008 Parade Magazine All-America First Team
- 2008 Long Beach Press-Telegram’s Best in the West First Team
- 2008 McDonald’s High School All-American
- 2008 Jordan Brand All-American Classic
- 2008 Southern California Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association I-AA Player of the Year (tied with two others)
- 2008 All-State Team
- 2009 Pac-10 Tournament Champion
- 2009 Named Most Outstanding Player in Pac-10 Tournament
- All-NBA Third Team: 2017
- NBA All-Star: 2014, 2016, 2017
- NBA All-Star Rising Star: 2011
- NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month: April 2015, January 2016
- NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week: December 7–13, 2015; November 7–13, 2016; December 12–18, 2016; January 9–15, 2017; March 20–26,DeRozan was a member of the United States national team that won the gold medal in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. In nine games, he averaged 4.8 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. He made a second appearance for Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics. DeRozan averaged 6.6 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.9 assists in seven games for Team USA in helping them win the Olympic gold medal. DeRozan is the son of Frank and Diane DeRozan. DeRozan and his wife, Kiara Morrison, have two daughters: Diar (b. 2013) and Mari (b. 2016). During his rookie year, DeMar formed the DeMar DeRozan Slam Dunk Book Club, which is a sports and literacy after-school program at North Kipling Junior Middle School that targets boys in grades 1-6. Students involved in the program are taught the game of basketball while incorporating the important life skill of reading. DeMar originally contributed Raptors game tickets, t-shirts and basketball gear to the 120 boys from the Etobicoke area of Toronto. With drastic budget cuts to after-school curriculum, DeRozan stepped in to save the 12-week program from ending. On April 13th, 2013, DeMar presented North Kipling Junior Middle School with a $15,100.00 donation to support the sports and literacy after-school program.In the off-season, DeMar is a fixture in the grass roots basketball scene, participating in the world famous Drew League in inner city Los Angeles. DeMar has also been known to show up and play pick up basketball with fans in Toronto and Los Angeles. DeMar enjoys interacting with his fans over Twitter and often conducts contests with trivia questions giving the winners tickets to Raptors games.
NBA career highs
|Points||43||vs. Boston Celtics||February 24, 2017|
|Rebounds||13||vs. Boston Celtics||January 10, 2017|
|Assists||12||vs. Portland Trail Blazers||February 1, 2014|
|Steals||6||vs. Atlanta Hawks||October 29, 2014|
|Blocks||4||vs. Sacramento Kings||December 5, 2012|