DeRozan with the ball during practice

DeMar DeRozan Appreciates Paris, Focused on Second Half of Season

Paris always has been about dreams.

There’s the sweep of the Medieval castles and Gothic architecture ringing the river Seine with its many stone bridges decorated with lively sculptures of lions, winged deities, children and candelabras. Balzac called the city a gastronomy of the eye, a celebration of food and a setting that provided a harmony in nature.

Like love, you know in that first look, and so it has been with Paris.

Americans flocked to Paris for as long as there has been a United States. Thomas Jefferson was so enamored of the French it almost resulted in a civil war long before the Civil War. Benjamin Franklin would leave his family behind to enjoy the salons and French courts. Americans of the early 19th Century like James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel Morse adventured to Paris for the sublime setting and artistic motivation. After the first of the so called great wars, Americans like Ernest Hemingway came to debate, and mostly drink, Hemingway with Scott Fitzgerald making the Ritz bar central Paris. Paris, indeed, was a moveable feast, as Hemingway’s memoir was titled.

And amidst all this glory and gentry Tuesday was Bulls scoring star DeMar DeRozan along with his son and four daughters, sampling a world he once though only extended perhaps as far as Dodgers Stadium.

“Never did I ever ever,” DeRozan was saying Monday following Bulls practice about thinking of Paris growing up in the troubled Compton area of Los Angeles. “That’s another reason why it’s so cool to even be here. It shows you how far playing basketball can take you.”

Which is another reason why DeRozan said he plans to play Thursday against the Detroit Pistons after missing the last three games with a quad injury.

“For sure, yeah,” DeRozan said after returning to Bulls practice Monday at the Palais des sports Marcel Cerdan in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret.

NBA players generally don’t care for this sort of road trip, or, actually an ocean trip, but DeRozan is embracing his first time in Paris.

“It’s so many angles of positivity that I look at it (coming here),” he said. “There’s the abundant experience and an opportunity to play (and do) what you do in Paris; it’s an experience that’s one of a kind. I’ve been in the league 14 years and I’ve never been to Paris. So to come here and be able to compete and do something in front of a fan base you don’t (normally) get the chance to do something in front of, I don’t take the opportunity for granted one bit. It’s the experience that lasts a lifetime. There are so many dynamics we can take a lot of positivity from.”

And it’s even better that DeRozan gets to share it with his children. The Bulls invited family members and friends of players and staffers for the trip with a day off Tuesday before some team dinners. Some were off to Burgundy in the wine country, NBA players of recent vintage displaying a particular love of wines. There were trips to the nearby Palace of Versailles, and then just drinking it all in.

“Just everything,” said DeRozan. “The new experience, getting off the plane and seeing something different, getting a different feel being in the gym. Every moment that I’m here is going to be something new,”

“The culture; it’s one of the most visited tourist places in the world that you come to,” DeRozan agreed. “So to be able to be here and experience that as a basketball player is amazing. And then to have my son and my (four) daughters here to witness it is an awesome thing. I’m going to get a feel and experience with them with us having a day off. Obviously, the Eiffel Tower; just everything about it, trying the food, taking some tea home. Just taking it all in.”

You get a different perspective when you are sitting back and watching from afar

DeMar DeRozan

But it’s still about basketball, the next destination being the Accor Arena in Bercy, a famed arena and concert venue in a southeast suburb of Paris. DeRozan rarely misses games, so he took a coach’s view of the Bulls past week and remains optimistic.

“You get a different perspective when you are sitting back and watching from afar,” DeRozan said. “Just putting emphasis on that, our energy, effort level, our confidence, sustaining that for as close to 48 minutes a game as possible. We were just having too many lapses here and there whether defensively or offensively that put us in a hole and made it so tough for us to get back in a lot of games. Just the understanding of how to close out a game. Another emphasis on starting out games and starting out the third quarter."

“We’re still right there…still in there,” DeRozan pointed out with the Bulls just four losses behind sixth in the East. “You see it from a clear perspective when you are not playing. My mindset is to this next half of the season and understanding those moments and being a lot better and emphasizing that so it don’t linger throughout four or five minutes in a quarter of a game.”

Back to business. But, ah, Paree.

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