DeRozan, Harden friendly rivals
Spurs guard considers Rockets guard ‘family’
DeMar DeRozan and James Harden go way back.
“I remember when he didn’t have a beard,” DeRozan said.
Or even peach fuzz.
Born 19 days apart in August 1989 in Los Angeles, DeRozan and Harden grew up together as rivals on the court but close friends off it.
“I consider him family.” DeRozan said. Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. game between the Spurs and the Rockets at the AT&T Center will mark the first regular-season meeting this year between the Interstate 10 rivals.
It will also serve as a reminder to DeRozan and Harden of how far they’ve come.
“To see where he is today, where I am today, we always talk about it,” DeRozan said. “It’s definitely amazing to see how far we have come when we thought we wouldn’t have anything.”
Said Harden: “It’s cool. We’re right at the top of the dream we’ve been trying to chase since we were little.”
It didn’t take long for Harden to reach out to DeRozan after the Toronto Raptors traded him to the Spurs in July in the Kawhi Leonard blockbuster.
It was a tough time for DeRozan, who wanted to stay in Toronto and had been led
by Raptors management to believe that would be the case. But there was at least one positive aspect to the deal that DeRozan recognized: It ensured that he and Harden would have the opportunity to face each other more than twice a season.
It’s a boon for the two friends, who first squared off on the playgrounds of Compton just south of downtown L.A. before dueling in the Pac-10 Conference (now the Pac-12), with DeRozan at Southern Cal and Harden at Arizona State. The Trojans toppled the Sun Devils 66-63 in the 2009 conference tournament, with DeRozan outscoring Harden 25-10.
“Whenever I get a chance to go up against him, that’s always one of those memorable moments because of just knowing where we came from and where we are at now,” DeRozan said. “It’s always fun.”
Adding spice to Saturday’s encounter is both teams desperately need a win.
The Spurs (6-4) have lost two