DeRozan and Lowry Cherishing All Star Festivities

Holly MacKenzie -

After two days of media, photoshoots and catching up with fellow NBAers, the Toronto Raptors' backcourt have officially kicked off All-Star 2017. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, each making their third All-Star appearance, spoke with reporters on Friday morning about the honour of representing the Raptors in New Orleans.

"It's a dream come true," DeRozan said. "Something you dream about as a kid, growing up watching all your favourite players participate in it. Now when you look around and make it to All-Star, it means a lot."

For Lowry, who was voted in by NBA coaches this season, getting recognized by the coaching staffs around the league means a lot.

"Either way, I'm happy to be here," Lowry said. "The coaches, that just shows the respect they have for you, and it's how you lead the team. I've always been a guy that's worked hard, and I think the coaches see that. Being voted by the coaches, it's an honour. Being voted by the fans is an honour. In this situation, a lot of people -- for me, having both now, it's pretty cool to be voted by the coaches knowing they respect what you've done for your team."

Despite it being his third time doing it, the newness hasn't worn off.

"I'm still excited," Lowry said. "I still get a chance to be around all these All-Stars and get all you guys to interview me. And getting the opportunity to just be here, it's a blessing. It's earned. It's where I want to be. Every time I come, I'm happy. The last few years, it's been fun to me. This year I get to come off the bench. So I'll be a little bit more relaxed this year. It will be fun."

The Raptors made a splash heading into the All-Star break, acquiring Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic in exchange for Terrence Ross and a future first-round pick. After having a tough six-week stretch filled with injuries and lineup changes, Lowry and DeRozan are both looking forward to getting their new teammate caught up to speed with his new team.

"I think he's going to do a lot," DeRozan said. "His capability of going out there, protect the rim, space the floor, change the game in many ways with the skill set.

"You look around the league and, sure, he's been known to be a shot blocker [too]" he said. "The main thing he'll do now is stretch out the floor. Everything he can do is definitely something we need."

After enduring some struggles in the new year, the Raptors backcourt is planning on enjoying their All-Star experience, as well as the mini-break that follows, but then the focus is on getting back to business.

For DeRozan, this year's All-Star game being held in New Orleans brings back memories. His first All-Star game in 2014 was also in New Orleans and being back is a nice reminder of all that's happened in the previous three years. From a first-time All-Star to a three-time All-Star alongside point guard Kyle Lowry, DeRozan and Lowry have propelled the Raptors to new heights, making it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history last season.

"It's everything," DeRozan said. "That's something me and Kyle discuss all the time in the summertime, when we're on vacation. Whenever we're doing anything, ways we can make this team and this organization better. To see both of us here [together] for the second time in a row, winning a gold medal [with the U.S. National team in the Rio Olympics], helping our team win, now having a new opportunity with a new teammate the second half of the season, it's definitely a great opportunity."

Another All-Star weekend also provided a moment for DeRozan to reflect on his two Dunk Contest appearances. Participating in 2010 and 2011, it's difficult to believe that six years have passed.

"It flies by," DeRozan said. "It makes you feel like yesterday when I was a kid. I was excited to do that. Nowadays, I don't think I could do half the dunks that I tried then. It's definitely a cool thing to look back on and say I did it. Just to appreciate these moments like today."

With two days of media obligations down, Toronto's All-Stars have plenty to look forward to still. Kyle Lowry spent his Friday night coaching Team East alongside Jemele Hill in the NBA All-Star Celebrity game. DeRozan and his daughter were on hand to support him as Team East defeated Team West 88-59. Friday also marked the 10th anniversary of NBA Cares NBA All-Star Day of Service.

Saturday morning will bring All-Star practices, as well as the three-point competition for Lowry on Saturday night beginning at 8 P.M. ET. The main event will be on Sunday with the All-Star Game taking place at 8 P.M. ET.