Newspaper article The Canadian Press

High-Flying Toronto Raptor DeMar DeRozan Has Been Dunking since Sixth Grade: High-Flying DeRozan First Dunked in Grade 6

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

High-Flying Toronto Raptor DeMar DeRozan Has Been Dunking since Sixth Grade: High-Flying DeRozan First Dunked in Grade 6

Article excerpt

TORONTO - DeMar DeRozan was a sixth grader when he soared through the air for his first slam dunk.

It was a moment of athletic brilliance that earned him bragging rights with his friends and set the stage for a life lived above the rim.

"It was at recess, just playing around, trying to show off that I could dunk, and I could pull it off," DeRozan said after a practice this week. "It was a little bet. You know when you're young everybody's trying to dunk, and I said I could dunk.

"And I got it in, finger tips. . . .that was the first time."

Fast forward 10 years, and the 22-year-old Toronto shooting guard is one of the most explosive dunkers in the league.

The Raptors high flyer turned plenty of heads in the NBA's slam dunk contest the past two years, but won't be part of this weekend's annual all-star festivities in Orlando.

Fans cried robbery last year when DeRozan failed to make the final after throwing down what many thought was the dunk of the night -- a ridiculous alley-oop reverse windmill that he called "The Showstopper."

The six-foot-seven Raptor was the only dunker who didn't use gimmicky props -- Blake Griffin rolled out a Kia car and a choir, Serge Ibaka had cheerleaders, JaVale McGee brought in an additional hoop.

"Dunk contests are dunk contests, you just go out there and do dunks. Every time I was in the dunk contest it was just strictly dunks," said DeRozan, who won the dunk contest at the McDonald's All-American high school game in 2008.

"I think people want to add more excitement to it because they feel they've seen all the dunks. So sometimes you have to add a theme or props or whatnot. It is what it is. I just like going out there and doing dunks, I'm not all into the props or anything."

DeRozan doesn't need anything but the lightness in his legs and the rim in his sights.

To those who will never know that high-flying feeling, the Compton, Calif., native offered this description: "It's a rush. You're running and either you're catching lobs or you're dunking on somebody. It's like a rush, being able to do something that quick, that fast in the air."

The decision to drive and dunk happens in a split second. …

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