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Spurs' DeMar DeRozan Discusses Racial Injustice, More with B/R's Taylor Rooks

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2020

CLEVELAND, OHIO - MARCH 08: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs drives down court during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on March 08, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan spoke with Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks about several topics, including racial injustice and the NBA's plan to return to play next month.

On the first edition of DEFINED released Friday, DeRozan discussed how his upbringing shaped his perspective on injustice in the United States currently:

Protests have broken out across America since May 25, when 46-year-old black man George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis. His killing has strengthened the fight against racism and police brutality against black people.

DeRozan noted he grew up with the notion black people weren't safe around police officers:

"Growing up it was more so me knowing and feeling like, 'Oh, that's the norm,' or 'The police, oh they just can't wait to catch a black man doing something wrong so they could do this to you.' ... It was always like, growing up was taught to me, like, 'By all means, if you see the police, let them pass by, then go about your business.'"

DeRozan called it "normal" to fear police while growing up in Compton, California, and he also touched on some of the difficulties he experienced at a young age.

He said he lost two uncles to gang violence while growing up and he attended funerals so frequently as a kid that he feels uneasy about them to this day.

DeRozan has been at the forefront of the push for change, and he took part in a protest in Compton recently along with Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook and rapper Kendrick Lamar.

He recalled being inspired to protest after a black man was beaten by police in Compton. He noted that while there had been protests in Los Angeles, their protest was the first one to take place in Compton.

When DeRozan was asked by Rooks if he is doing OK amid all the issues in the United States currently, DeRozan gave a simple, yet powerful, answer: "How can we be OK?"

DeRozan also discussed how important it is for black people to create change for those who follow in their footsteps: "Being black, you have to be strong enough to bring up the next person behind you to be even greater to make life better for anyone that come after you."

Although basketball is secondary right now, the NBA's plan to return to play in Orlando, Florida, next month has still been a major topic of conversation.

The NBPA approved the NBA's plan, but it remains uncertain if the season will move forward, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving made an "impassioned plea" on a call that included over 100 players for them to sit out the rest of the season in order to focus on social reform.

DeRozan called the meeting "very intense" and "passionate." He also said there is some "hesitation" and "mixed emotion" when it comes to returning to action amid the coronavirus pandemic because of uncertainties regarding the plan.

Even so, DeRozan said, "I know for a fact guys want to play basketball," which could be a sign the NBA's plan to finish the regular season and stage the playoffs in Orlando is set to move forward.  

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