On Friday, Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan joined an elite group of NBA players with a signature mid-range jumper in the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs.

The basket was DeRozan’s 20,000th career point in 14 seasons. Only 49 other players have achieved the milestone, including Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James.

The moment was met with an immediate timeout by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who joined the AT&T Center crowd in cheering on his former star.

“I’ve never looked at records and milestones,” DeRozan said after Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. “I just go out there and compete. When this happens, you realize that this is reality. Especially since I’m just a basketball addict — 20,000 doesn’t happen often. It’s definitely crazy to be in that position.”

DeRozan could reach the elusive number at the United Center on Wednesday with 24 points — a reasonable number for DeRozan, who is averaging 22 points per game this season. He was seven points short, settling for a win against the Indiana Pacers.

“It wasn’t one of those things where I was adamant or I woke up this morning saying, ‘I have to do this,'” DeRozan said. “It’s always going to happen when it’s going to happen. I just wanted to play to win. Let it be, what will be.”

Instead, DeRozan made a milestone in the city that changed the trajectory of his career. Toronto may have been the city where DeRozan established himself as an NBA star, but San Antonio was where he reinvented himself. Even when he felt overlooked in a smaller market, DeRozan said he always felt loved by the fans and the city.

Those three seasons in San Antonio were defined by the presence of Popovich, who guided DeRozan both on and off the court.

The pair remain close, making Friday’s historic moment even more special for DeRozan — though he also joked that Popovich might put him in Box 1 — the defensive coverage designed to keep the team’s leading scorer from getting a single shot — just to mess with him. .

“(DeMar) is a beautiful, wonderful person,” Popovich said before the game. “One of the best I’ve ever coached. He’s just a lovely person.”

Reaching 20,000 points is just the latest in a long list of accomplishments for DeRozan, who last season matched Chamberlain’s record 35-point games shortly after becoming the first NBA player to make back-to-back game-winning shots.

Those accolades only add up to an acumen that his teammates believe will be remembered as one of the best in NBA history.

“I’ve said it before — I think DeMar DeRozan is a Hall of Famer,” teammate Zach LaVine said after Wednesday’s game.

In the final weeks of last season, DeRozan realized he was approaching a milestone. It struck a chord with him at the time — as a reminder of his longevity in the league and a sign of his career success.

But DeRozan said records and milestones aren’t his focus.

“Every day that I come to work and put on an NBA jersey, I’m incredibly grateful,” DeRozan said. “I tell a lot of the young guys — some of my favorite players that I grew up with, I had the opportunity to play against them coming out. It put a lot of things into perspective for me. I remember when I was a beginner and if you asked me where I would be in 14 years, I would have no idea.

“To be here, still playing at a high level, having fun – it was an honor for me. Every time I get a chance to play basketball, it’s refreshing for me.”