TV viewers tuning into watch the Chicago Bulls’ game against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night were probably wondering what that loud shrieking sound was whenever the home team stepped up to take a free throw.
The origin of that noise was the daughter of Bulls star DeMar DeRozan, working her hardest to put off Raptors players during their moment of concentration. Thanks to nine-year-old Diar DeRozan’s best efforts – and ear-piercing screams – it seemed to work.
The Raptors shot 18-for-36 (50%) at the free throw line as the Bulls recovered from a 19-point deficit to win 109-105 in their NBA Play-In tournament clash.
That is the team’s worst free throw percentage performance of the season and the most misses in an elimination game since 1969, according to ESPN.
Cameras caught Diar sitting near the basket at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto and screaming her loudest just at the moment a Toronto player was about to release the ball for a free throw.
Bulls insider KC Johnson described the volume Diar was able to produce, saying that – despite sitting on the opposite side of the area and levels above in the media center – she “can be heard plain as day on every” free throw.
After the game, having contributed 23 points and seven rebounds, DeRozan admitted that his daughter’s effectiveness took him by surprise.
“She went viral,” he told reporters with a smile. “I haven’t let it soak in. I kept hearing something and there was a free throw and somebody missed and I looked back and: ‘Damn, that’s my daughter screaming?’”
DeRozan, a former Raptors player, explained that Diar had actually asked her dad if she could have the day off of school to visit the city she had spent the first few years of her life growing up in.
“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.”
Despite her effectiveness though, DeRozan was adamant that Diar won’t be traveling down to Miami for the team’s crucial final Play-In game against the Heat to decide if it will feature in the playoffs or not.
“She’s got to go back to school,” he said.
Whether she will or won’t be in Florida for Friday’s game, for one night only, Diar was most certainly “DeMVP of the night.”
Way out West
In the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder upset the New Orleans Pelicans in their Play-In clash, winning 123-118.
Josh Giddey led the way for the Thunder with 31 points and 10 assists, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 32 points in the victory. Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 30 points in the losing effort.
The Thunder will now travel to face the Minnesota Timberwolves for a spot in the playoffs to face the No. 1-seeded Denver Nuggets.