San Antonio Spurs: DeMar DeRozan speaks on Gregg Popovich, team culture and LA

San Antonio Spurs (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

In an interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, San Antonio Spurs star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan opened up about his first season with the team.

Although he wasn’t initially thrilled about being traded, it seems like DeMar DeRozan has found peace with his new fit with the San Antonio Spurs. After establishing himself as one of the greatest players in Raptors history, DeRozan was betrayed by his franchise and shipped to San Antonio as another victim of Kawhi Leonard’s nasty exit from the Alamo City.

This may have been a blessing in disguise for the 29-year-old, who now has the opportunity to learn under hoops mastermind Gregg Popovich and the expert coaching staff that the Spurs have to offer him. Maybe he’s not as great of a fit as Leonard was from a basketball perspective, but he aligns much closer with the organization’s values as a whole, creating a happy and motivated working environment for his teammates.

In an interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, DeRozan spoke on his first season in San Antonio and his experiences through his first full season with Popovich.

“Pop is cool. He’s like a Don Corleone. You know, he makes you look at him not just like the basketball coach, but you know, a great individual. I called him the other day just to talk, talk trash to him and he not good at working the iPhone and all that. Like, he hates technology to a passion, so he always talk about ‘he gonna put something on Twitter,’ like, knowing he ain’t got a Twitter. He call it Twittergram.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Twitter will henceforth be known as “Twittergram” amongst the Spurs community.

All jokes aside, it’s clear that DeRozan and Pop have built a strong relationship through their first full season. For as often as Popovich is viewed as curmudgeonly amongst outsiders, his hilarious and caring personality entice his players to work on themselves both on and off the court.

Spurs fans will be glad to know that the two have been in contact during the offseason. Whether its basketball related or not, Popovich serves as a mentor for those who study under him. He teaches lessons through unorthodox methods, like putting on penguin documentaries during film sessions to instill certain ideas to his pupils.

.@DeMar_DeRozan reflects on his friendship with Nipsey Hussle and says the two had dinner 2-3 weeks before the LA rapper’s tragic death ?

“Take It There” with @TaylorRooks finale drops Tuesday

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 3, 2019

“The whole point of it was how life is a full circle, you know, and how we all – as long as we work together and stick together and stay on the same track, how we could accomplish the most impossible mission.”

Popovich’s teachings focus on the ideals that have kept the Spurs as a model franchise through his tenure as the team’s mastermind – trusting your teammates, working together, sacrificing for the greater good and picking up your comrades when they’re down.

It’s not referred to as the Spurs Family for nothing, this is a way of life that runs deep through the organization from the players themselves to the AT&T Center’s staff. San Antonio’s familial roots are ingrained through the city and fandom as a whole.

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Part of this process, DeRozan says, is mandatory team dinner.

“Win, lose or draw, after a game, if we’re staying over in a city, we got a team dinner. We’re going to break bread, we’re going to have a good night – a good evening. You know, we’re family.”

It’s hard to have an in-depth conversation with DeRozan without discussing his Los Angeles roots, so naturally Rooks asked him about a desire to play in his hometown at some point during his career. Spurs fans naturally winced at the mention of Los Angeles, the city which Kawhi Leonard outwardly stated as his primary destination of choice upon requesting a trade from San Antonio last summer.

DeRozan doesn’t seem to share the same sentiments as Leonard, as he’s adopted San Antonio as his new home.

“I think you’d be crazy to say you never wanted to play home. Everybody always wants to have that opportunity, but I think I’m definitely happy where I’m at and I’ll watch them from a distance.”

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This is a level of security that Spurs fans longed for last season, it’s relieving to hear a star player with history in Los Angeles citing his happiness in the Alamo City. Although it doesn’t offer the same glamor and stardom of his hometown, DeRozan clearly appreciates the passion that San Antonio brings to the table.