Verge Meets: Demar Derozen , Zach Levine & Jayden Ivey

The NBA Paris Game 2023 Presented by Nike will feature the six-time NBA champions Chicago Bulls and the three-time NBA champions Detroit Pistons playing the league’s second regular-season game in Paris at the Accor Arena on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.

The NBA Paris Game 2023 Presented by Nike will air live on beIN SPORTS, free-to-air Canal+ and NBA League Pass at 9 p.m. CET, reaching fans in more than 200 countries and territories on television, digital media and social media. The game will also be shown on BBC Three 8pm GMT.

In the build up to the big game Verge Magazine CEO – Andre Dixon speaks to DeMar DeRozen, Zach LeVine (Chicago Bulls) and Jayden Ivey (Detroit Pistons)

 

DeMar DeRozen

Q: How does it feel playing in Paris?

DD: It feels great. It’s an honour – it’s a blessing to be able to represent this game in Paris, I’m excited. Looking forward to the game tomorrow being out there playing. Extremely eager. 

Q: Do you know Paris already or not?

DD: I’ve never been so this is my first time. To be here, be doing what I love to do, playing basketball, I’m definitely looking forward to it

Q: Demar how can chemistry help the team?

DD: It’s big, we’ve travelled a long way to get here and experienced something new amongst all the guys. Can’t do nothing but bring us closer, give us another spark, going into the second half of the season, so it’ll be something that’s extremely, extremely beneficial for us. 

Q: What would you like to improve and maintain?

DD: Just being consistent. We show we can compete and play against anybody so just being consistent is the main part for us. 

Q: What are you expecting for tomorrow night? 

DD: Man, I’m looking forward to it. I know Killian Hayes is from here so I know a lot of people are going to be excited to see him and seeing NBA basketball up close in person. I’m excited to see all the fans, be in an atmosphere and see what it’s like.

It means a lot to be here to represent the Chicago Bulls organization, and Paris, and the NBA. It’s an honour. I’m excited, my whole team, everybody excited to be here. We can’t wait to get out there tomorrow and play in front of all the fans. 

Q: Is it important for the NBA to go in Europe?

DD: For sure, for sure. It just shows you how global the game of basketball is. Everybody across the world loves the game of basketball. And for fans to see us up close, can’t do nothing but make it that much bigger. You see the kids up there, you see how excited they are. You know, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what we do it for. 

Q: Why France, not Italy or Spain or another country?

DD: I would’ve loved to go anywhere. I’m glad we here in Paris, just to be able to travel outside the States to play is amazing and I’m glad we got to play in Paris. 

Q: There are some great European players and it used to be all about the Americans. What is it about the Europeans that works in the NBA?

DD: If you start from back in the day, there are so many European players that came out, that set the tone for the greatness for it to be carried over, Ginoblili, one of my favourite players growing up, Dirk, so many players that have a skill set that sets them apart, and you just see the culture of that growing even more and more. It’s great to see we can name so many, so many European players to this day, that it’s just taking a leap to another level. 

Q: Are you surprised to see the fans here in Paris?

DD: No I’m not surprised. I’m more excited, it’s fun. Even walking the streets yesterday, fans coming up to you being excited saying that they’re gonna be at the game. It’s a humbling experience because it shows you how, how big the game of basketball is for us to be over here playing representing the NBA is awesome. The game is gonna be fun tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to it. 

Q: Do you think it’s a good thing for NBA to play abroad?

DD: It’s a great, it’s a great thing. I’ve had the privilege to play in London twice. Now to be in Paris, playing basketball. The experience is one of a kind. I’m glad that the NBA do it. I hope we continue to do it and continue to do it even bigger.

Q: What do you think of [Victor] Wembanyama? 

DD: He is going to be in the NBA. He’s going to be amazing. Just what I’ve seen thus far this past couple of months from him. That’s a guy that can come in and lead and definitely change the game again. 

 

DeMar DeRozen & Zach Levine
Zach Levine

Q: What do you like most about the team the chemistry you have? How beneficial is it, chemistry-wise for you? 

Zach: Oh, it’s great, guys have been, you know, going out there shopping, bonding, having fun- me drinking wine it’s been fun. 

Q: It’s your first time in Paris? 

Zach: First time in Paris. I’ve been south of France before and Italy. But Paris is amazing. Looking at the architects and seeing all the buildings and the history, I love it.

Q: Do you think it’s a basketball country?

Zach: Of course, obviously, you can just look around here and see the crowd that we have, walking around, people recognise us and I think the game’s gonna be electric too. 

Q: Is it important for NBA to play in Europe and France? 

Zach: Yeah some of the best players in our league are from overseas in Europe. The game just keeps growing. Obviously, us coming over here having an NBA game, to where you guys don’t get to see us all the time is amazing. 

You’re gonna enjoy yourself for sure. You don’t want to take it for granted but we’re here for basketball so we have to focus on winning the game.

Q: What do you expect from the French fans tomorrow?

Zach: I think it’s a great reception not just for us, but Detroit too. We’re gonna go out there and have a great game and hopefully they enjoy the spirit of competition. 

Q: What’s one thing you want to improve the second part of the season

Zach: More consistently winning games. We’ve won a lot of big games, and we lost some games that we don’t think we should have. 

Q: Why are you here in Paris?

Zach: Great, great, great opportunity, not just for us but for the entire Chicago organisation, come to a city like Paris and play front of the fans that don’t get to see NBA basketball all the time. I’ve enjoyed it so far. But we’re here to win a game so I’m excited.

Q: You guys last came here in the 90s with Michael [Jordan]. Do you think that helped improve NBA support in Europe? 

Zach: It’s great how we see the NBA/the game today and the players, none of that’s possible without Michael Jordan. He inspired a lot of us and, via the organisation they came here 25 years later, it is great. I know they played a preseason game here. We’re playing NBA games, so it’s a little bit different. These games count so we’re going to enjoy Paris, but we got to win a game. 

Q: The purpose of this trip is to grow the sport of basketball, but we’ve seen an influx of European players in the NBA for many years. From Giannis now to Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, great players. Does that mean the Americans have to up their game?

Zach: No. It just shows how much better the world has gotten. I don’t want to say catching up, but even you know, playing into the Olympics it’s not easy. We just won a gold medal and we had a really hard time, playing against these teams over here. It just shows how good the game has grown. Some of the best players in the NBA like you said, you know, are from Europe or overseas. It’s not just American players got to up their game, basketball in general has just gotten so much better. I think it’s good for everybody.

Q: People talk about the rivalries, is that between the players themselves, or is it what the fans bring to the stadium?

Zach: There are rivalries that rule the history with certain teams, but I think now it’s starting to be more player on player and best players versus the best players on the other team. And that makes it all fun, you can either route for somebody or route for a team. 

Q: What do you think about Victor Wembanyama?

Zach: We aIl heard about him, he can do everything, he’ll be in the NBA very shortly and we gunna have to deal with him. He’s going to be great.

Q: Do you get a sense of how popular the Bulls are over here?

Zach: A little bit just walking around, people recognising us obviously you know the bulls as a franchise one of the most popular in the world. It’s just an honour to come back over here you know, 25 years later after they’ve been here, obviously Michael and everybody, we’re enjoying it.

Q: Who is the best dunker in the NBA right now? Ja Morant?

Zach: Ja Morant is crazy he can do anything. Shoot, LeBron still dunking on everybody too. We got our team, Derrick Jones Jr. that dunks on everybody as well. Anthony Edwards as well, there are so many guys in the NBA that can dunk on you and that’s why it’s important sometimes to just get out the way. 

Q: Talking of Lebron, he will break the scoring record at some point this season, how important is he to the league?

Zach: What he’s done for the game in growing and not just on the court, but off the court business wise. Lebron is one of the greats, for him to be this good at the age that he is, he’s averaging like 38. It’s unheard of. We’ve been we’ve been seeing it for 20 years. There’s nothing like it. 

Jayden Ivey

Q: How could you describe the bond, the chemistry that you’ve built with this team?

Jayden: I would say our bond is strong already. We all just love being around each other. It’s more than just basketball with us. I feel like we’re a strong-minded team. But off the court we gel well together

Q: It’s your first time in Paris?

Jayden: Yes it’s my first time but I’ll be coming back for sure – I love it. The people, the culture, its special to be here. I love the food, I just love the people out here- so definitely be back one day

Q: What do you expect from tomorrow night?

Jayden: Win, I want to win. It’s a special opportunity for us as a team as a unit, we just looking to get a win. 

Q: Has Killian [Hayes] given you any advice about being in Paris? 

Jayden: Yeah Killian knows his way around everywhere here so if I need to go somewhere, shop somewhere or eat somewhere I’ll probably ask Killian. 

Q: As a player what does it mean to you to play in a foreign country in Europe and Paris?

Jayden: Growing up my mum actually played overseas, so as a young kid, I was able to go overseas with her and play professional basketball and I was able to be with USA basketball and play in Latvia overseas. This is my second time being able to play overseas. I’m very thankful for this opportunity, just thankful to be with the Detroit Pistons.

Q: How are you feeling?

Jayden: Feeling good, feeling great, just blessed to be able to play basketball especially in France and a special opportunity not only for us and the team but for the organization, we are all very blessed to be able to be here and represent the Detroit Pistons

Q: Is it difficult to be focused?

Jayden: Not at all, we step in here and we’ve got one goal, and that’s to get a win and I feel like we’re all focused, you know, Paris is a lot of fun, a lot of sight seeing, a lot of things that we haven’t seen before but we’ve seen these lines before, the nets, the goals, all that before- we just trying to stay locked in

Q: You talk about the importance of your mother and her career

Jayden: Very, very thankful for my mother. Obviously helped me get here, the reason I’m talking to you guys in Paris. All the sacrifices that she did for me, I’m just very thankful to be able to represent her in Paris is very special. I give a special shout out to her and I’m very thankful.

 

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