Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Last year, DeMar DeRozan appeared on “The Old Man and The Three” podcast and gave the largely unheralded Torrey Craig some flowers.
“I give him top-two players in the league that defends me the best,” DeRozan said on the podcast.
And indeed, Craig displayed his tenaciousness during a Jan. 31, 2021 matinee between the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers. That’s two teams ago for Craig, who starred in a supplemental role for the Phoenix Suns last season and now is DeRozan’s teammate on the Bulls.
But that day, Craig relentlessly hounded DeRozan, picking him up fullcourt, fighting over screens to limit his space, contesting his shots. DeRozan had shot just 7-for-23 when he gathered the ball for the final possession of a one-point game, including 4-for-12 in direct matchups versus Craig.
And then DeRozan sank a 27-foot, one-legged, game-winning 3-pointer over Craig’s contest at the buzzer. Ballgame.
“If you watched that game, I think was playing some of the best defense,” Craig said in an appearance on the Bulls Talk Podcast. “When he made that shot off one leg, you can’t do nothing but just pat him on the back and say, ‘Good shot.’ That’s how it is.
“Great players make great plays. And he’s one of those players who made a great shot. And then he backed it up with another game-winner the following night. So I didn’t feel so bad about it after that one.”
Indeed, DeRozan became the first player in NBA history to sink game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointers on consecutive days, performing more magic the next night in Washington to beat the Wizards.
Craig said he’s happy to be DeRozan’s teammate now and appreciated the respect he showed him when he made his comment to JJ Redick on Redick’s popular podcast.
“It means a lot. He’s a great player,” Craig said. “Him saying that is a level of respect. I admire guys like that.”
And then that relentlessness flashed again.
“I wonder who the first (top defender) was,” Craig said, laughing. “I’m going to ask him.”