Bulls veteran DeMar DeRozan voted into fifth All-Star Game and third as starter

DeRozan was voted in as a backcourt starter, while Zach LaVine was edged out by Trae Young and will have to wait until the reserves are announced. The All-Star Game will be played Feb. 20 in Cleveland.

SHARE Bulls veteran DeMar DeRozan voted into fifth All-Star Game and third as starter
The Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan will be a starter at next month’s NBA All-Star Game.

The Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan will be a starter at next month’s NBA All-Star Game.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Many have witnessed the on-the-court DeMar DeRozan this season.

The calmness in frenzied moments, the ridiculous game-winners, the 26.4 points per game and the playmaking.

That’s why the Bulls veteran was an easy choice to start for the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 20 in Cleveland. That was made official Thursday.

It will be DeRozan’s fifth All-Star appearance — his third as a starter — and his first since the 2017-18 season, when he was still with the Raptors.

The vote was a combination of balloting by the fans, media and players, with the fan vote carrying the most weight. DeRozan won all three voting groups.

‘‘The way you do it,’’ DeRozan said of why this one was so special compared to previous ones. ‘‘You go from being an All-Star year in and year out to kind of going idle for a couple of years. We don’t get younger in this league. So for me to just overcome everything that I overcame and coming into a new situation, everything that’s been going on teamwise with me, it just makes it special.

‘‘To come back and not just be an All-Star but be voted in as a starter, man, it’s just one of those moments of — I don’t know what to call it. I can’t even give it a title. It just feels good.’’

There’s a reason his Bulls teammates, who are around him almost every day, see DeRozan as more than just an All-Star. They see what he has accomplished in his first season with the team as MVP-type stuff.

‘‘He’s meant a lot to this team in a lot of different ways,’’ center Nikola Vucevic said. ‘‘Obviously, the way he’s playing, it’s a given; everybody has seen that. The leadership he’s brought, the experience he’s brought and also the confidence we have when he’s on the court with us, especially at the end of games, we know he’s a guy we can go to.

‘‘With young guys, you have a player like him who has been through a lot of playoff games, a lot of experience, big wins, tough losses — things like that — we rely on him. Also, he just has a great demeanor about him, and I think that rubs off very positively on the team. His play all year long has been amazing. I think this could be one of his best years in the NBA, so for sure he deserves to be a starter [in the All-Star Game].’’

An argument could be made that DeRozan should have had a teammate with him. That still might be the case next week, when the reserves are selected. For now, however, guard Zach LaVine will wait to find out whether he will be an All-Star for a second consecutive season.

Despite beating out the Hawks’ Trae Young in the player vote, LaVine lost to Young in the media vote and fan vote.

‘‘My opinion — nothing against Trae, Trae is definitely an All-Star — but Zach should have been in there, as well,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘You see it from the players’ reaction. I wish he would have got in there. I think that would have been dope to have the both of us in there as starters. But no question he’ll be [selected] next week.’’

DeRozan and Young will make up the East’s starting backcourt, with the Nets’ Kevin Durant, the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and the 76ers’ Joel Embiid up front.

Durant and Lakers star LeBron James led their respective conferences in votes and will serve as captains.

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