Over his last eight years as a Toronto Raptor, DeMar DeRozan has gained a reputation around the NBA as a stand-up guy. The ultimate good person. A humble, hard-working, polite, coachable all-star whose heart is in the right place. A family-minded role model. The kind of athlete that’s specially bred for the front of a Wheaties box.
Or so it would seem.
But on Tuesday night, we saw a very different side to DeRozan. A dark side. As the clock wound down in the fourth quarter, with the Pacer’s leading 105-90, the game was all but done. That’s when Pacers guard Lance Stephenson went in for an unnecessary layup, instead of dribbling out the last few seconds of the game. And DeRozan had none of it.
Just watch the way Deebo runs up on Stevenson immediately after the layup, screw face and all, shoving him around like he’s about to lay a Nino Brown-style smackdown on his five dollar ass.
That, right there, is the face of a bad man. A bad, bad man.
Earlier this week, The Ringer got West Coast rapper Vince Staples and comedian Hannibal Buress to sit down to debate the toughness of NBA players. Staples was especially adamant about the fact that DeRozan — soft-spoken, professional DeRozan — is someone you do not want to eff with. “Respect DeMar DeRozan,” he said, stopping short of details. “That’s all I’ve got to say. I’m just waiting for somebody to try that.”
We’re not entirely sure what Staples knows about DeRozan that we don’t, but perhaps we caught a glimpse of it on Tuesday. Deebo is from Compton, after all. And, as some Zapruder-eyed fans have pointed out, he occasionally throws up what appears to be the Compton Crips sign during games. Of course, for all we know, those double C’s could stand for Cookie Crisp.
But hey! This is all speculation. There’s a perfectly good chance DeRozan is still the wholesome, pacifist, God-fearing, upstanding citizen we’ve come to believe that he is. So what if his feathers get a little ruffled sometimes, or if he’s got a bit of arthritis in his fingers, or if he…can be seen acting greezy in the background of this decade-old Master P video…
The song is called “Cookie Money!” How nefarious can that be! Sure, “cookies” is a slang term for crack in some inner-city areas, but who’s to say DeRozan isn’t just a really big fan of small, sweet, typically round baked goods?
The point is this: with the Pacers a game and a half behind the sixth-place Atlanta Hawks, there’s a chance the Raptors could take on Indiana in the first round of the playoffs. Stephenson better pray this doesn’t happen. Because, in the off chance that DeRozan actually does have a mean side, and isn’t just basketball’s Martha Stewart, then Lance done goofed. He’s done goofed big time. You come at King Comp10, you best not miss.