The MVP of Wednesday’s NBA game was none of the players on the court of Scotiabank Arena, but one 9-year-old girl in the stands. Diar DeRozan, the daughter of Chicago Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan, earned the Second City’s love by helping the Bulls defeat the Toronto Raptors in the play-in game, thus keeping Chicago’s NBA Playoffs dreams alive. Whenever a Raptor player stepped up to the free throw line, Diar would shriek, scream, and yell like a Windy City banshee – and it worked, resulting in what ESPN called “perhaps the best free throw defense in history.”
— holmes (@charlesxholmes) April 13, 2023
The Raptors shot 18-for-36 at the line. It was their worst free throw shooting performance all season and the most misses in an elimination game since 1969, per ESPN. This effective screaming allowed Chicago to pull off the comeback victory, as they trailed Toronto for the game’s first half. They ultimately won by four points, 109-105, resulting in the Raptors’ season-ending not with a bang or a whimper but a scream.
“I kept hearing something during the game during free throws,” DeMar, 33, said at a post-game presser. “I looked back like … dang, that’s my daughter screaming.” After the Bulls scored the W, Diar came to join her father on the court before walking away, noticing that her daddy had worked up a sweat.
Family ties ❤️
— NBA (@NBA) April 13, 2023
DeMar, who played for the Raptors from 2009-18, explained that his daughter had talked her way into attending the Apr. 12 showdown. “My daughter called me the other day when she was getting out of school, and she just said, ‘Dad, can I come to the Toronto game?'” DeRozan said. “I remember her going to all the Toronto games when she was a kid, and I almost said no because she’s in school back home. But she kept asking. She was just adamant about coming to support, and I said, ‘All right, you can miss one day of school and come to a game.’ I’m glad I did. I owe her some money for sure.”
The Bulls will now play the Miami Heat on Friday (Apr. 14) in an elimination game, with the winner advancing to face the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Heat fans can rest easy. DeMar says Diar won’t be there.
On the opposite side of the bracket, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers (with the newly acquired Tristan Thompson) defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves to secure a spot in the playoffs. They’ll face off against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Timberwolves will play the Oklahoma City Thunder for a chance to square off against the No. 1-seeded Denver Nuggets.