Age is just a number for Bulls veteran forward DeMar DeRozan

Udonis Haslem is 41 years old.

LeBron James, Andre Iguodala and Carmelo Anthony each 37.

P.J. Tucker and Chris Paul? How about 36?

So when Bulls veteran forward DeMar DeRozan was reminded over the last week that he will play at the age of 33 this upcoming season, of course he went on the offensive. Which by the way, has always been better than his defense.

“As long as you take care of yourself, as long as you work, technology is completely different … It’s not like I’m Kevin Willis out here or anything like that,” DeRozan said when pressed upon the age issue, bringing up the fact that Willis retired at the age of 44. “Shout-out Kevin Willis.

“I’m just saying, there are so many ways to take care of yourself … physically, mentally, nutrition, the technology that you have for recovery. There are so many ways that you can be effective longer periods of time.”

That’s why DeRozan laughed off the idea that he can’t follow up the All-Star showing he displayed in his first season with the Bulls last year.

Especially with how much work DeRozan puts into his game not only in the offseason, but during the season.

While NBA players love to post their workouts on social media, DeRozan just loves to workout. Usually early in the morning or late at night, and always out of the view of camera phones and TikTok videos.

More importantly, DeRozan is around enough younger players throughout the league to know how they work out and maintain their recovery, and frankly he knows what he puts in is just more.

That’s why his mindset is why can’t he continue getting better?

“I never put those thoughts in my mind, saying, ‘Oh, I’m going into my 14thyear. Maybe I’m slowing down or can’t do this,’ ” DeRozan said. “I don’t even think that way. I’m trying to be the best player I can be.”

It doesn’t hurt that DeRozan is good friends with some of the older statesmen in the NBA these days.

Rewind to the summer of 2021, and DeRozan was hanging with James, feeling like he was being recruited to join “The King” in Los Angeles and become a Laker. It didn’t happen thanks to the Russell Westbrook move LA made instead, but it didn’t change the DeRozan-James relationship.

Then there’s Paul, who DeRozan speaks to often.

“I have a lot of conversations with a lot of guys that are older than me in this league, like Chris Paul,” DeRozan said. “This whole age thing that people love to put on people, it’s like why?

“You look at LeBron going into his 20thyear. It’s insane. Same conversation I had with him. I love getting older just to show people you still can get better the older you get.”

Plus, DeRozan knows if the Bulls are going to get where they expect to in the juggernaut that is now the Eastern Conference, he’s going to have to try and get better.

“I love the competitive island that the East is on,” DeRozan said. “You have to compete. For me, people get so caught up in the rankings, but you put me in a room with the best and it brings out the best in me. That’s the approach that we have to take this whole season. This is the toughest the East has been since I’ve been in the league.”

That’s another reason DeRozan can’t even think about his age or experience. The East won’t allow him to.

“As long as I got wheels on this car,” DeRozan added, “I’m going to ride it until these wheels don’t work anymore.”

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