DeRozan credits Pistons coach Casey for shaping career

DeMar DeRozan spent seven years being coached by current Pistons boss Dwane Casey in Toronto.

Casey took the Raptors job in DeRozan's third NBA season, and they left at the same time - Casey fired and DeRozan traded for Kawhi Leonard just before Toronto won the NBA title.

On Wednesday when the Bulls opened the season in Detroit, DeRozan talked the impact Casey had on his life.

"I wouldn't be the player I am today, I wouldn't be sitting here, I wouldn't have the success I had in my career if it wasn't for Casey," DeRozan said after his Bulls debut. "Casey for me is something bigger than a head coach I played for. He was sort of a father figure for me, he kind of allowed me to be myself on the basketball court and allowed me to grow into the player I am today and with that I'm forever in debt with Casey.

"He means the world to me. His family always treated me like family. His kids grew up with my kids, so it's something bigger than basketball for me with Casey."

Casey talked about how DeRozan is one of the only opposing players he'd wait around to greet at a morning shootaround.

"He is one guy I did stay after shootaround to give a hug to," Casey said. "He is one of the nicest young men I have been associated with, and he is like a son. I remember his father's last words to me was 'kick him in the butt', and his dad passed away, but he was a good man.

"So, I just took him under my wings as a young kid in Toronto and just watched him grow. Now he's a father and a great basketball player, and I couldn't be prouder. That's why we are in this business."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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