DeMar DeRozan was Drake's 'brother.' Now he's dancing onstage to Kendrick Lamar's diss track

Drake performs onstage in Toronto on Oct. 8, 2016. Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan watches an NBA Rising Stars semifinal basketball game Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, in Salt Lake City. Kendrick Lamar performs at Coachella Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on Sunday, April 16, 2017, in Indio, Calif. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP, AP Photo/Rick Bowmer Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Drake, left, performs in Toronto on Oct. 8, 2016; Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan, middle, watches an NBA Rising Stars game in Salt Lake City on Feb. 17, 2023; and Kendrick Lamar performs at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival on April 16, 2017. (Invision / Associated Press)

NBA star DeMar DeRozan was seen cutting a rug onstage as Kendrick Lamar performed his hit "Not Like Us" on Wednesday night at the Kia Forum.

That might not seem so unusual. After all, seemingly half of Los Angeles was packed onto the Forum stage to dance along with the Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper's earworm of a song, which also doubles as a Drake diss track and possibly the last word in Lamar's very public feud with the Canadian hip-hop superstar.

DeRozan appears to be in a unique situation, however, in that he might have been the only person up there who has — or at least had — a friendship with Drake.

A standout player at Compton High, DeRozan played at USC for a year before being selected at No. 9 overall by the Toronto Raptors in the 2009 NBA draft. After spending the first nine years of his career with Toronto, earning three All-Star nods during that period, DeRozan was shipped to the San Antonio Spurs in the trade that brought Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors during the 2018 offseason. He was then traded to the Chicago Bulls in 2021 and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Read more: Kendrick Lamar reps L.A. unity at Forum, performs 'Not Like Us' marathon, brings out Dr. Dre

Drake, whose full name is Aubrey Drake Graham, was born in Toronto and is a diehard Raptors fan. He has served as the team's global ambassador since 2013. The day DeRozan was traded to the Spurs, the "God's Plan" singer was there to provide comfort to the heartbroken player.

"I went to Drake's house. Me and him sat and talked for a couple of hours," DeRozan told ESPN in 2018. "Not even on some hoops stuff. Just to hear the words that come from him being the person that he is in this world, especially in Toronto. What I meant to this city. It was what I needed."

At that time, Drake posted a heartfelt message to DeRozan on Instagram, referring to him as a "brother" as well as "an incredible captain and an even better friend."

"To my brother @demar_derozan I want to say 10 million thank you’s on behalf of YOUR city. You are a fixture in Toronto forever and you gave everything you had," Drake wrote in a post that appears to have been deleted. "Through your leadership we had the most exciting years in franchise history. I am grateful to have witnessed your combination of skill, persistence, and loyalty from the same seats every night. Thank you for being an incredible captain and an even better friend."

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Drake also name-dropped the basketball star in his 2021 song "Lemon Pepper Freestyle" with the line, "My city love me like DeMar DeRozan."

But Lamar has a connection with DeRozan as well.

They both grew up in Compton and were seen together at a 2020 peace march in the city. With his spat with Drake reaching epic proportions this spring, Lamar released "Not Like Us," which also contains a line that references DeRozan: "I'm glad DeRoz came home, y'all didn't deserve him neither."

Lamar performed the popular track multiple times in a row Wednesday during his “The Pop Out — Ken & Friends” show in Inglewood. DeRozan and Clippers star Russell Westbrook, who is from Long Beach and played for UCLA, appeared to be having a great time dancing with the masses onstage during Lamar's fifth and final time through the song. Lakers star LeBron James and soon-to-be NBA free agent James Harden, who played last season with the Clippers, were also in attendance but didn't take the stage.

Read more: Where do Kendrick Lamar and Drake go from here?

Maybe the move by DeRozan was nothing personal toward Drake. Maybe he just wanted to take part in a special moment without putting a lot of thought into it.

Or maybe DeRozan was finally getting revenge for being dissed multiple times by the "Laugh Now Cry Later" singer during their 2017 NBA Awards skit with comedian Will Ferrell. Drake is probably having second thoughts about making fun of DeRozan's name — with lines such as, "DeMar I say it, de less I like it" and "DeFense? Is that your cousin, DeMar?" — right about now.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.