DeMar DeRozan earns sixth All-Star nod, second with Bulls

DeRozan, who was voted a starter in last year’s game, fell short of earning that acknowledgment in 2023.

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Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan was selected to his sixth All-Star Game on Thursday.

Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan was selected to his sixth All-Star Game on Thursday.

Rick Bowmer/AP

Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan handled the news of his sixth All-Star nod Thursday by dropping a piece of advice on the media members standing around to get his reaction.

‘‘I hope anybody out there, whatever field you work in, never listens to the outside noise of people doubting you, counting you out, everything,’’ DeRozan said before scoring 15 points in the Bulls’ 114-98 victory against the Hornets. ‘‘As long as you’re true to yourself, believe in yourself, keep putting in the work with a genuine heart and a genuine passion, you’ll be rewarded.’’

The NBA’s 30 coaches voted DeRozan an Eastern Conference reserve for the Feb. 19 showcase. In a season in which the Bulls have struggled to reach the .500 mark, that acknowledgment was an honor for DeRozan.

‘‘I wish it was more of a team thing,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘It means a lot. I never take anything like that lightly or for granted.’’

It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that the Bulls wouldn’t be represented in the All-Star Game at all. DeRozan was voted a starter last season, but early returns showed he was sixth in the fan vote, which counts for 50%, fourth in the players’ vote (25%) and 10th in the media vote (25%).

‘‘You always want to see your guys get rewarded for their play and what they’ve done,’’ Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. ‘‘Obviously, it’s a prestigious honor. There are not that many guys that get a chance to be a part of it.’’

The respect DeRozan has garnered from coaches across the league speaks to his work ethic.

After earning four All-Star nods during his tenure with the Raptors, DeRozan was written off. He went four seasons with the Spurs without earning any All-Star recognition, despite averaging 23.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists.

In his second season with the Bulls, DeRozan’s field-goal percentage is up. He’s shooting 51.1%, compared with 50.4% last season, and entered play Thursday averaging 26.3 points, five assists and 4.9 rebounds.

DeRozan said his time with the Bulls has rekindled his passion, happiness and joy for the game. His perspective returned, he said, reminding him that he’s playing for the pure love of the game.

‘‘I can’t even lie to you: There are a lot of things I still can’t believe I’ve accomplished being from Compton, California,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘Being through all the stuff I’ve been through personally, career-wise, to still be honored as an All-Star is an honor.’’

Rumor has it

As the trade deadline nears and the Bulls’ shaky play continues, rumors have been swirling around more than one of their players. While center Nikola Vucevic said he pays them no mind, guard Alex Caruso admitted he knows what people are saying.

‘‘Anybody would be lying if they said they didn’t know about them or aren’t aware of them,’’ Caruso said. ‘‘It’s just part of the business.’’

Instead of pretending he doesn’t see the speculation that he might be included in a trade before the deadline Thursday, Caruso stays focused on not giving the rumors any of his energy.

He doesn’t switch up his routine, he has deleted Twitter from his phone and he locks in on the task at hand.

Asked whether he expects to be with the Bulls next Friday, Caruso was as confident as a person who has little control over the outcome could be.

‘‘I think so,’’ Caruso said. ‘‘I haven’t gotten any indication or word. Coaches still seem to like me. Front office likes me. Players like me.’’

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